Thursday, February 28, 2008

Juarez hearing rescheduled for third time


The preliminary hearing setting for a 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy charged with murder was rescheduled for the third time yesterday for March 13 — one day before the one-year anniversary of a downtown gang brawl that ended with the stabbing death of 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares.
Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, who is representing the defendant, Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, said she has requested the series of continuances in order to “resolve certain issues.”

“In light of some of the discussions we’ve had,” Atkins said. “We’re going to ask for one last continuance.”
Neither Atkins nor Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer would talk on the record about what those issues are.
Atkins did say she expects they will be resolved by March 13 and a preliminary hearing will be scheduled at that time.
If that happens, it’s likely a preliminary hearing will commence sometime between then and April 11, which will be 60-days after Juarez entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of murder.
When a preliminary hearing is held, it will be the second for Juarez in the past year.
After a 12-day preliminary hearing in August 2007, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill ordered Juarez to stand trial on the charge.
Atkins vehemently protested that decision, saying procedural errors by Hill and Dozer were grounds for the case to be dismissed.
On Feb. 3, Judge Frank Ochoa did just that, citing the late filing of paperwork by Dozer and the District Attorney’s Office — an error he said clearly justified the dismissal of the case.
But hours after Ochoa’s decision was handed down, Juarez was rearrested and the following day was once again charged with murder. And like the first time around, District Attorney Christie Stanley opted to try Juarez as an adult — a decision Atkins has said she hoped Stanley would reconsider.
After Juarez was arraigned for the third time on Feb. 11, Atkins told Hill she didn’t think he should rehear the case since he had already done so months earlier.
But so far, Hill has not recused himself and said during a hearing on Feb. 19 that he does not intend to do so.
However, due to the possibility of a preliminary hearing beginning in mid April, Hill said the case might have to be assigned to another court due to scheduling conflicts.
“It may well be sent out if that’s what we need to do,” Hill said.
The judge also alluded to the possibility of Dozer having to assign the preliminary hearing to another deputy district attorney if it conflicts with his schedule — a possibility that the prosecutor told the Daily Sound is not likely.
Dozer urged the court to pay careful attention to all scheduling deadlines associated with the case, noting that it was dismissed once on a technical error.
“We’ll just let the case speak for itself,” he said after the hearing. “We have no further comment.”

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