Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Juarez ordered to stand trial for murder


A 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy charged with murder in connection with a 2007 gang melee on State Street was ordered yesterday by a Superior Court judge to stand trial.
The decision by Judge Brian Hill came during the second preliminary hearing in the past eight months for Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, who authorities say stabbed Luis Angel Linares, 15, as many as eight times during a March 14, 2007 gang fight.

Juarez has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which includes a gang enhancement, three separate times and is expected to do so again during an arraignment scheduled for April 17. Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer said barring any hang-ups, Juarez could stand trial as early as mid June.
Hill’s ruling mirrors one he handed down last August after a preliminary hearing for Juarez stretched 12 days and concluded dramatically when the judge stopped Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins from proceeding with her side of the case, and ordered Juarez stand trial.
After that hearing, Atkins vowed to file a motion to dismiss Hill’s ruling — a promise she followed through with and one Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa eventually found was justified.
Ochoa, citing a procedural error made by Dozer and the District Attorney’s Office, dismissed the case at the beginning of February. As a result, Dozer had Juarez rearrested and filed the same charges. The District Attorney also opted to try Juarez, who was 14 at the time of the killing, as an adult.
Atkins told the Daily Sound yesterday she plans to review a transcript of the most recent preliminary hearing to see if it warrants a challenge.
“I don’t want to speculate on what other motion we might file about the prelim,” she said.
The prosecution’s case was drastically different this time around, lasting only three days as opposed to the more than seven days Dozer took last August.
But during those three days, Dozer called a witness from the Santa Barbara Police Department who said Juarez admitted to wielding a knife that day on State Street and swinging it at Linares.
Dozer also played a videotaped interrogation of Juarez that was conducted about six hours after the fight. In the tape, Juarez was visibly upset when told by Det. Gary Siegel that the victim had died. When asked by Siegel to point to where he thought he struck Linares with the knife, Juarez touched his left shoulder.
The tape itself was the basis for some of Atkins’ arguments in her motion to dismiss Hill’s earlier ruling. Her problem with the tape was not that it was shown, but that it was not shown in open court during the first preliminary hearing. Hill viewed the 1 hour, 20 minute taped interrogation in private.
Atkins called a number of witnesses over the past three days, one of whom was a boy named Ricardo R., who cited his Fifth Amendment right to not testify and refused to do so.
During the first preliminary hearing, Ricardo R. did take the stand and was granted immunity by Dozer — a luxury not afforded the boy yesterday.
Atkins has maintained that Ricardo R. is partly responsible for killing Linares, and according to Santa Barbara Police Officer Alexander Cruz, at least one anonymous witness said after the fight that Ricardo R. admitted to stabbing the victim.
A pair of black, knit gloves worn by Ricardo R. during the fight were found to contain small amounts of Linares’ blood — a detail that was revealed in August.
During a segment of a different videotape that was shown during the first preliminary hearing, Juarez is shown in a police interrogation room talking about the fight with a boy named Jose M. In that tape, Jose M. tells Juarez that Ricardo R. stabbed the victim just below the right armpit, which is the same location a forensic pathologist testified was the wound that ended Linares’ life.
After Hill made his initial ruling in August, Atkins asked, “How does the court ignore that particular evidence in this case? Isn’t there overwhelming evidence that this boy Stomper [Ricardo R’s gang moniker] inflicted the mortal injury?”
But the knife found in the State Street garbage can contained Linares’ blood on the blade and Juarez’s DNA on the handle.
In past Daily Sound stories, Dozer has said just because a person other than Juarez may have had something to do with Linares’ death, doesn’t make the defendant any less culpable.
“Legally it doesn’t make a difference whether [Juarez] inflicted the fatal blow or others did,” Dozer was quoted in Daily Sound as saying on Aug. 21, 2007, the day Hill initially ordered Juarez to stand trial. “He brought a knife to a gang fight, the natural consequence of that gang fight was a death, so he’s still liable to be held for murder.”


Anonymous said...

Ithink the whole thing is lame...>first off when you have a knoife you know what exactly you can and are willing to do with it .... if they set this kid free over a lame technicality anyway its gonna give a green flag to every other CRIMINAL youth in santa barbara to do the same damn thing what are they thinking . . . . point being . .He brought a knife to a gang fight with intent in using it. . .He stabbed someone . . .They died. . .life in prison end of story. (PERIOD) stop with this (another suspect inflicted the fatal wound crap)

Anonymous said...

i think that the kid should not get life at 15 and should go to a maximum security juvenile hall until he is 18 an then go to youth athority until he is 21 then go to federal prison until he is 25 that should be sufficient