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Local News

Gang Members Found Guilty in Lompoc Torture Case

But the jury deadlocks on two counts against Raymond Macias

Two gang members were found guilty Friday in the torture of a Lompoc drug dealer, but the jury in Santa Maria couldn't reach verdicts regarding some of the allegations against the man described as a top-ranking gang leader in Santa Barbara County.

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury in Santa Maria returned the verdicts for most of the charges against Raymond Daniel Macias and Luis Alfredo Almanza.

Judge Patricia Kelly declared a mistrial after jurors remained "hopelessly deadlocked" regarding two counts against Macias — kidnapping for extortion and solicitation for extortion.

However, jurors found Macias guilty of torture and sale of methamphetamine, along with special enhancements related to use of a firearm, gang involvement and use of a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Macias faces a sentence of life without parole for the convictions.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense are scheduled to return to court on Wednesday regarding the Macias case.

After the verdicts were read, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen said she will decide soon whether to refile the counts against Macias, who was represented by defense attorney Michael Scott.

“We’ll know by next week,” Bramsen said about retrying Macias.

Macias faces life without parole if he is retried and convicted on the other counts, she said.

“I’m disappointed that he was found guilty of the torture count since he didn’t torture anybody,” Scott said.

The same panel also found Almanza guilty of kidnapping for extortion and torture, plus special allegations for use of a firearm, gang involvement and use of a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Almanza, who was represented by defense attorney Charles Biely, is scheduled to return for sentencing on July 23. Almanza faces a sentence of life without parole. 
His attorney declined to comment about the verdict.

Macias and Almanza were charged in connection with the Jan. 3, 2013, kidnapping and torture of Lompoc drug dealer who used the moniker Sicko. The case led to grand jury indictments against 11 people, authorities announced in June 2013.

Prosecutors alleged that Macias was a top-ranking gang leader in Santa Barbara, who set up the attack because the victim hadn’t paid the required “taxes” to the Sureno gang and then hid from those trying the collect the money, a significant act of disrespect.

Almanza, also known as Lucky, was the gang enforcer, and allegedly used a hatchet to injure the victim’s arm and torso, according to prosecutors. Almanza came to the Central Coast from Texas where he reportedly was in a gang.

The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Monday afternoon.

They notified the judge they were deadlocked on the two counts Friday morning. Upon questioning, the jury foreman said they were stuck on the legal definition of intent.

The judge read some additional jury instructions before she sent the jurors back to deliberate more and suggested submitting in writing their question regarding intent and the charges to avoid a misunderstanding.

However, the jurors never sent a note and instead said they remained divided, confirming when polled by Kelly that additional time wouldn’t help.

“As to Mr. Macias, I find that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked as to counts one and three and I will declare a mistrial on those counts only,” Kelly said before the clerk read the verdicts on the other counts against Macias and Almanza.

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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