The Santa Maria woman who died eight days after she was sexually assaulted during what police are calling home invasion robbery has been identified as Marilyn Pharis.
Pharis, 64, died Saturday at Marian Regional Medical Center, more than a week after a man entered her home in the 900 block of North Dejoy Street and sexually assaulted her during the July 24 attack.
Police initially said the woman was 67 years old.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Office is expected to review the case later this week, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin said.
Martin said he “strongly believes” her death is related to the attack.
The woman’s wounds and injuries were so severe she remained hospitalized more than a week after the attack, he noted.
Authorities say the suspect fled the scene after the attack, and broke into another house in the 1000 block of West Donovan Road, about five blocks north of Dejoy Street. He was later captured by police.
Victor Aureliano Martinez, 29, of Santa Maria, was arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on July 24 on suspicion of attempted murder, sexual assault and residential burglary.
Martin said Martinez has been arrested several times in the past couple of years, has a history of drug use, and appears to be an undocumented immigrant. Additional details were not available.
Once the coroner’s report is completed, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office is expected to review the case to determine whether to file a murder charge against Martinez.
Pharis reportedly worked for a satellite tracking facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.