Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Second prelim begins in murder case


The second preliminary hearing for a 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy charged with murder began yesterday and the prosecution wasted little time building its case, showing a DVD in which the defendant admits during a police interview to swinging a knife at a boy who was killed during a March 14, 2007 gang melee.
In the DVD, Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, who police say stabbed 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares to death during the fight, could be seen crying and was visibly distraught when told by Santa Barbara Police Det. Gary Siegel that the victim had died.

In the DVD, Juarez told Siegel he struck Linares on the left shoulder and also says he was the only one present with a knife — a declaration his public defender, Karen Atkins, has said is not true.
Atkins has maintained that a boy named Ricardo R. also had a knife that day and inflicted the fatal blow.
Siegel took the stand yesterday, just as he did during the first preliminary hearing, which lasted 12 days and concluded last August with Judge Brian Hill ordering Juarez stand trial on the charge of murder.
The case was dismissed in February by Judge Frank Ochoa, who said a technical error made by the prosecutor, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, required the case be dismissed.
But on that same day, Dozer had Juarez rearrested and the following morning charged Juarez with murder and once again opted to try the boy as an adult.
The most glaring difference between the two preliminary hearings on day one was the showing of the DVD, which was not allowed during the first hearing.
Atkins vehemently insisted last August that Juarez was entitled to see all of the evidence against him. She said then that being able to question Siegel while viewing the tape was integral to her client’s defense.
Hill didn’t see it that way and instead watched the DVD in private, as did the prosecution and defense.
On day eight of that preliminary hearing, Atkins told Hill in court, “This is a crucial piece of evidence. I believe it should be played as part of the evidence. I think Juarez is entitled to see the evidence against him.”
Hill replied, “He was there. He doesn’t need to see it again.”
When Hill ruled a couple of days later, Atkins vowed to file an appeal, which she did. In that appeal, she based much of her argument on the fact that this DVD was not played in open court.
Atkins just began to delve into her cross-examination of Siegel yesterday when court adjourned, but was able to question the detective on the manner in which he conducted his interview of Juarez.
She especially focused on when, where and if Juarez was read his Miranda rights, which law enforcement officers are required to do before questioning a suspect.
Atkins pointed out that Juarez was arrested at about 2:30 p.m. and wasn’t questioned until about 8:30 p.m. She wondered at what point during this process he was read those rights and subsequently waved his right to an attorney.
Siegel said he didn’t recall, but added he was sure it occurred.
Atkins also said it was Siegel who first began using the term “homies” during his interview with Juarez.
Siegel said he did so because, “It’s language gang members will use or associates will use.”
Atkins said she’s not sure how long this preliminary hearing will last, but admitted she’s pleased that the DVD was played yesterday in open court.
“I felt that it had to be played in court and I’m glad they aren’t trying to do it the way they did before,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a little different from the last one.”
The hearing is scheduled to resume this morning at 9 in Department 2 at the County Courthouse.

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