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Local News

Trial Delayed Until April for Defendants In Marilyn Pharis Slaying

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial for two men charged in connection with the death of an Air Force veteran in her northwest Santa Maria home more than two years ago has been delayed until at least April.

On Thursday, Judge John McGregor set a new date for the trial of Victor Ramirez Martinez, 31, and Jose Villagomez, 23.

The two were charged in connection with the brutal assault of Marilyn Pharis, 64, in her residence on the 900 block of North DeJoy Street in July 2015. She died eight days later at the Marian Regional Medical Center.

They 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.

Their trial was delayed from Feb. 5 because of a scheduling conflict for both defense attorneys, Michael Scott who represents Villagomez and Lori Pedego for Martinez.

Scott and Pedego also represent a pair of defendants in a different homicide trial that is scheduled to occur first in a different courtroom.

McGregor scheduled the trial for Martinez and Villagomez to start April 9.

He also set aside Feb. 23 to consider motions filed by the attorneys. 

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen and Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede.

The attorneys will return March 29 to confirm the trial date.

McGregor previously ruled in favor of Scott’s motion to impanel separate juries to consider the men’s fate.

Two years ago, the case drew national attention due to Martinez's status as an undocumented immigrant with prior arrests.

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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