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Local News

Trial Delayed To 2018 For Men Charged With Murder of Marilyn Pharis

The trial of two men charged in connection with the death of an Air Force veteran in her northwest Santa Maria home has been pushed into 2018.

Judge John McGregor granted the defense motion seeking a delay Thursday morning in the case of Victor Aureliano Ramirez Martinez, 31, and Jose Villagomez, 22. 

The two men have been charged in connection with the violent attack on Marilyn Pharis, 64, in her residence on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street in July 2015. She died eight days later at the hospital. 

The pair will be tried for first-degree murder, plus numerous special circumstances.

Martinez will face an additional special circumstance for torture and a special allegation for use of a deadly weapon, identified as a hammer.

The trial now is set to start Feb. 5, 2018, with the confirmation date scheduled for Jan. 25. Attorneys will return to court Sept. 21 this year for possible motions in the case. 

The trial was first scheduled for mid-August of this year but the same two defense attorneys, Lori Pedego and Michael Scott, have a conflict with another murder trial, which was rescheduled for mid-August in a different courtroom.

In that case, two former Allan Hancock College basketball players, Lavell Calvin White, 24, and Ali Abdul Mohammed, 21, have been charged with the fatal shooting of Terence Richardson, 23, in a vehicle near the campus after a drug deal gone wrong in December 2014.

That trial had been expected to start in early May, but Judge James Voysey agreed in April to a postponement to give the defense attorneys time to review new evidence.

The ripple effect forced McGregor to vacate the Aug. 14 start for the trial of the men charged with Pharis’s murder. 

Other trials have filled the schedules for the judges and attorneys for the remainder of 2017, meaning the first opening for the Martinez and Villagomez trial fell next year. 

In the months after the attack the case drew national attention since one of the suspects, Martinez, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico with a prior criminal history, leading the police chief to declare a “blood trail” leads from immigration policymakers into the bedroom where Pharis was attacked.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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