Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Juarez held over for trial


A 14-year-old Santa Barbara boy charged with murder in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old during a March gang melee on State Street will stand trial, a superior court judge ruled yesterday.
“I’m convinced that [Ricardo] Juarez should be held to answer on all charges and enhancements,” Judge Brian Hill told the court yesterday despite staunch protest from Juarez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins.

Atkins threatened to file an appeal over the decision.
Juarez, often referred to as “Ricky,” has pleaded innocent to the charge of murder with a gang enhancement.
Hill abruptly put an end to the 12-day preliminary hearing just before 5 p.m. after hearing a nearly inaudible recording of Juarez and a person referred to in court as Jose M. that was recorded in an interview room at the police station just hours after the incident.
In the recording, the two boys can be heard discussing various aspects of the fight.
The last words uttered on the tape by Juarez to Jose M., according to a copy of the transcript were: “---I was just sticking him --- and that fool’s all like --- he’s all like fu**in’ bleeding from his mouth. That’s all I, that’s all I remember.”
When the tape ended, the lights in the courtroom turned back on and after a few minutes of formalities, Hill jumped into his explanation of why he believed the hearing was over.
“How do you explain that away,” Hill asked Atkins of Juarez’s statement in the tape. “I understand the theory of the defense. [However] the evidence is pretty clear here.”
But before the judge could finish his explanation Atkins exploded in protest, saying with a raised voice, “We’re talking about the life of a 14-year-old.”
Hill told Atkins in an equally strong tone to, “stop venting and argue your case. Don’t talk to me like I wasn’t here during this testimony. I was here. I heard it.”
Atkins then asked the judge to continue the hearing for one more day so she could play a videotaped interview of Juarez conducted by Santa Barbara Police Detective Gary Siegel. During that interview, Siegel, who is one of the lead investigators in the case, said in his prior testimony that Juarez admitted to wielding a knife and swinging it at the victim during the fight.
“I believe [Juarez is] entitled to hear his lawyer explain everything,” Atkins said after the hearing. “I feel like he [Hill] prevented me from advocating for my client.”
In the early days of the the preliminary hearing, Hill ruled that he would watch the 1 hour, 20 minute police interrogation of Juarez from home. Atkins insisted she didn’t agree with the Hill’s decision to receive evidence from home.
“I never conceded to it,” Atkins said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, the prosecutor in the case, commended the judge’s decision.
“I’m pleased with the court’s legal conclusion and factual conclusion,” Dozer said. “The courts agreed with the people’s case that the defendant should be held to answer for murder for personal use of a knife in a gang fight.”
For more than two days of the preliminary hearing, Atkins put on the defenses case, much of which hinged on the presence and actions of a person referred to in court as Ricardo R., who Atkins believes may have inflicted the fatal stab wound.
One of Atkins’ final witnesses was Dianne Burns, a criminalist for the California Department of Justice, who said she tested blood spots on a pair of black, knit gloves that belonged to Ricardo R., a person often referred to by his moniker “Stomper.”
According to Atkins, the blood found on those gloves belonged to Linares.
Though Burns said the amount of blood detected on the gloves was miniscule -- several drops measuring no larger than the width of a pencil lead -- she also said in previous testimony that the amount of Linares’ blood found on a knife recovered from a garbage can on State Street was equally sparse.
The knife that was recovered from the garbage can was also found to have Juarez’s DNA on the handle.
Four segments of the “whisper tape” were presented by Atkins before the final segment was shown courtesy of Dozer.
During the first four segments, Jose M. and Juarez can be heard discussing the incident, but Juarez acts confused when Jose M. says Ricardo R. stabbed “Nacho,” which is a moniker used by Linares.
In the videotape, Juarez asks Jose M., “Where did Stomper get?” Jose M. then points with his right hand just behind his right armpit to indicate where he believed “Stomper” stabbed Linares.
The spot identified by Jose M. in the tape coincides with testimony by a forensic pathologist, who said Linares died from a knife wound that entered the boy’s body just below the right armpit, traveled in between two ribs and punctured a lung, which he said caused severe internal bleeding.
“How does the court ignore that particular evidence in this case?” Atkins asked Hill. “Isn’t there overwhelming evidence that this boy Stomper inflicted the mortal injury?”
Atkins also pointed to testimony by Detective Alexander Cruz, which indicated at least one anonymous witness told police that Ricardo R. admitted to stabbing Linares.
Both Dozer and Hill acknowledged there were other weapons, possibly knives, used during the fight, and that people other than Juarez were seen by witnesses engaging in assaultive behavior.
But Dozer said even if someone other than Juarez inflicted some of the eight knife wounds Linares received during the fight, it wouldn’t diminish, or reverse the charges Juarez faces.
“Legally it doesn’t make a difference whether he [Juarez] inflicted the fatal blow or others did,” Dozer said. “He brought a knife to a gang fight, the natural and consequence of that gang fight was a death, so he’s still liable to be held for murder.”
In the face of Ricardo R’s involvement, Dozer didn’t waver and pointed out that Juarez admitted to swinging a knife at the victim, Juarez’s DNA was discovered on a knife found at the scene and one eyewitness said he saw Juarez stab someone during the fight.
Ricardo R. took the stand yesterday as well and was granted “use immunity” by Hill, which means any of the boy’s testimony, as long as it was truthful, can’t be used against him.
Ricardo R. didn’t shed much light on Atkins’ case, but said he picked up a knife, which he guessed was about four to six inches in length from the ground on Carrillo Street near Saks Fifth Avenue, and threw it in a garbage can before fleeing the scene.
When told Linares’ blood was on his gloves, he said he thought it came from the knife he picked up.
Ricardo R. was arrested by police on March 16, two days after the fight.
During cross examination by Dozer, Ricardo R. denied making several statements that police reports indicate he said at the time of his arrest.
If convicted of the current charges by a jury, Juarez could face 25 years to life in prison. He is being tried as an adult by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Christie Stanley.
“It was a relatively long preliminary but we were able to clearly establish why the defendant was charged with those serious crimes,” Dozer said.
Juarez will be arraigned on Sept. 13 at 8:30 a.m. in department two.


Anonymous said...

the judge needs to stop playing around and investigate it more clearly hes not being fair to the defense because he had the evidence that ricardo r was involved in the mortal injury and yet hes not doing anything about it they need to get a new judge

rubi ramirez said...

more witnesses need to be brought to the stand that are not acquainted with gang members because kids do not know what they are saying or doing they may say certain things to get their "friends" out of trouble

Anonymous said...

they are treating him severely and harsh for his age theyhave alot of evidence they just arent using it correctly what do you think rubi ramirez?