BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER
Santa Barbara Police arrested seven people Tuesday night in connection with the July 2007 murder of a 16-year-old boy.
The arrests came nearly ten months after Lorenzo Valentin Carachure was stabbed to death near his home on San Pascual Street during a late-night gang brawl.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has charged four of the suspects, two of whom are adults and the other two juveniles, with murder. Deputy District Attorney Hans Almgren said the two juveniles will be tried as adults.
Those facing murder charges are: Emilio Mora, 19; Carlos Diaz, 19; Bryan Steven Medinilla, 16, and Ruben Nicholas Mize, also 16.
Almgren said these four have also been charged with two counts each of attempted murder and a number of gang enhancements.
A fifth man, Robert Joseph Martinez, has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder. Almgren said this charge stems from Martinez allegedly harboring and aiding Mize. Two other juveniles who police arrested have not yet been charged with a crime.
In what may have been his firmest comments yet on the recent escalation of gang violence in the city, Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez issued a warning to gang members yesterday, and pledged to continue being “heavy handed” when it comes to gang violence.
“We don’t care who you are,” he said. “If you commit crimes in Santa Barbara and become a gang member and kill people and assault people, we will find you every time.”
Carachure was stabbed several times on the evening of July 16, 2007 in the 700 block of San Pascual St. Two other men, a 17-year-old, and Carachure’s 19-year-old cousin, Noe Carachure, were also stabbed during the fight.
A police spokesman said a larger group armed with clubs and knives that began shouting gang slogans approached the three men.
“The victims were chased down one-by-one and attacked,” said Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte.
He said all of those who were arrested Tuesday live in Santa Barbara.
The murder came nearly four months to the day after Luis Angel Linares, 15, was stabbed to death at the intersection of State and Carrillo Streets during a brazen, midday gang melee.
Police arrested several suspects in connection with that fight, but the only one charged with murder was Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, who is awaiting trial. Juarez was 14 when he was charged and is also being tried as an adult.
When asked about the length of time it took to catch the suspects in Carachure’s death versus Linares’, Sanchez said they’re two completely different murders that can’t easily be compared.
“There’s no statute of limitation to catching a murderer,” he said.
After Linares’ death on March 14, 2007, droves of community meetings were held to discuss the violence. Since then, stabbings have occurred on a regular basis, and gang violence increased 60 percent in 2007 over the previous year, according to Richard Glaus, the city’s deputy police chief, who released that number to the city council at the end of last year.
The predominance of such news in the media was also discussed by Sanchez, who said he would like to see the thousands of young people who make conscious decisions to be good each day given more credit.
“We need to start celebrating about that more instead of hearing so much about the 100 or so who cause us the most grief,” he said.
Sanchez also addressed the problem from the perspective of the Latino community, of which many of the gang members belong.
“This is an issue the Latino community is ashamed of,” he said. “They can’t even go to the market to buy a gallon of milk without being asked where they’re from. They deserve protection.”
Sanchez said he believes the police, city council, and many other groups have and will continue doing all they can to thwart gang violence.
“The most difficult crime to prevent is murder,” he said. “I think we’re doing as much as possible to stop it from happening.
“What’s unfortunate is we’re still going to have people who are going to be gang members because that’s what they want to do.”
Almgren said the five suspects charged with crimes yesterday will be arraigned in Superior Court this morning.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
BY COLBY FRAZIER