Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trial nears in Juarez murder case


After 16 months of court hearings, a trial for a 15-year-old boy charged with murdering another boy during a March 14, 2007 gang melee could begin sometime next week.
The prosecution and defense have been whittling down a jury since the beginning of July, and after interviewing 507 Santa Barbara County residents, 10 women and two men have been chosen. More jury selection will take place Tuesday for four alternates. If four are quickly found, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer said a trial could begin as early as Wednesday.

Dozer said the biggest obstacle in picking a jury has been time-related conflicts, since the court is requiring jurors and attorneys to clear their schedules through the end of October.
He said it’s unlikely the trial will last that long, but said he expects the prosecution’s case could last as long as five weeks.
Dozer said he was somewhat surprised as to how many jurors said they knew little, if anything about the case, which was in the media consistently over the past year and a half.
Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, 15, was charged with murder shortly after a massive gang brawl at the intersection of State and Carrillo streets that erupted in broad daylight. When the dust settled, 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares was dead, the result of eight stab wounds.
It was the first gang-related homicide in the city in recent memory. And making it more egregious in the minds of many was the age of those involved. Juarez was 14 at the time of the killing and the District Attorney’s Office is charging him as an adult.
The killing was the starting point of a bloody summer. Several gang-related stabbings occurred before 16-year-old Lorenzo Valentin Carachure was stabbed to death near his relative’s home on San Pascual Street on July 16, 2007.
Four people were arrested May 6, 2008, 10 months after Carachure’s death. All were charged with murder and two of the accused, Brian Steven Medinilla and Ruben Nicholas Mize, are 16 and both are being tried as adults. The two men are Emilio Mora and Carlos Diaz, both 19. All four also face two counts of attempted murder for allegedly stabbing two other people who were walking with Carachure.
The most recent gang-related homicide occurred on the Fourth of July near Stearns Wharf, just as the city’s annual fireworks celebration was getting underway.
The victim was 15-year-old Emmanuel Roldan. Six people have been charged with murder in connection with Roldan’s killing, including his older brother, 17-year-old David Roldan. Two other boys, Daniel Cervantes and Victor Arroyo, both 15, were also charged with murder. All three are being tried as adults. The lone adult charged is 21-year-old Miguel Marquez. All four of these people are being tried as co-defendants and entered not guilty pleas on July 16.
As Old Spanish Days Fiesta kicked off last night, it not only marked the 84th anniversary of the celebration, but a grimmer milestone passed as well. On the opening night of the celebration in 1992, a 16-year-old Latino boy was stabbed to death in a gang-related assault at Carrillo and State streets, near where Linares was killed.
In order to ensure this weekend’s Fiesta celebration goes off without a hitch, Santa Barbara Police have requested assistance from 14 outside law enforcement agencies, including the County Sheriff’s Department and authorities from Santa Maria, Lompoc, Ventura, Oxnard and Santa Paula.
An estimated 126 police officers will join 25 sheriff’s deputies, 20 custody officers and forces from other agencies to patrol the streets during the annual celebration.

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