Not-guilty pleas were entered Monday for three people charged in connection with the slaying of a man whose body was found on the side of the road west of Guadalupe last summer.
The defendants — Gregorio Agustine and siblings Arturo Granados and Yesenia Granados — appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria before visiting Judge John S. Fisher.
The three, all of whom remain in custody, were ordered to return Sept. 21 after the judge entered not-guilty pleas on their behalf.
They and a fourth man have been charged in connection with the death of Javier Alcantar Limon, 37, of Santa Maria.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recommended filing charges against the fourth defendant, state prison inmate Joseph Brian Morales, after completion of the May preliminary hearing for the original trio arrested in connection with Limon’s death.
A judge ruled enough evidence exists to try the Grenados siblings and Agustine for the homicide.
They are charged with murder and several special circumstances, including lying in wait, kidnap, torture and committing murder for criminal street gang purposes, authorities said.
Yesenia Granados was charged with being an accessory after the fact, a gang violation, and a probation violation for possession of a controlled substance.
In a separate matter Monday, Morales was ordered to return to court Aug. 10 for further arraignment.
The case against Morales is at a different stage than the one against the three others, so they are being handled separately, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Gresser said.
A group of farmworkers found Limon’s body just off the side of West Main Street, near the entrance to the Guadalupe Dunes, the morning of Aug. 19.
Authorities determined Limon died from multiple gunshot wounds.
The first three defendants were arrested in September.
Detectives alleged the 27-year-old Morales, who was a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate housed in Los Angeles County, at the Lancaster prison, used a cell phone while in his prison housing unit to order Limon’s murder.
Morales was serving a sentence for his role in a 2006 attempted homicide that occurred in Santa Maria.
He has been incarcerated in state prison system since November 2007, according to the state prison data.