Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday gang stabbing linked to Juarez trial

BY ERIC LINDBERG
AND COLBY FRAZIER

DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITERS

A suspected Eastside gang member stabbed multiple times during a Sunday night gang assault on upper State Street had been scheduled to testify two days later in the high-profile murder trial of Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, according to police reports.
The 18-year-old victim was expected to take the witness stand for the prosecution on Tuesday. Police records examined by the Daily Sound show he had told detectives in the hours following a March 14, 2007, gang melee on State Street that he had seen Juarez swinging a knife at 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares, who died from stab wounds.

Three suspects attacked the victim — whose name was blacked out in police reports — on Sunday evening in the courtyard of the Guest House Inn on upper State Street, authorities said.
Records show he suffered a stab wound to the chest, causing his lung to collapse. He also sustained a severe cut on his face, splitting his nose and upper lip, as well as lacerations to his leg and right shoulder, according to police reports.
Surveillance video from the hotel showed a black Nissan Altima tailing the victim through a back alley. After disappearing from view momentarily, the victim ran back into frame pursued by three suspects.
As they entered the courtyard, the suspects tackled the victim into a planter. One suspect appeared to slash the teenager with a knife as the other two pummeled him with kicks and punches.
After the suspects fled the scene, the victim stumbled into the hotel lobby, his wounds spraying blood across the floor and walls.
That surveillance footage led detectives to 18-year-old Pablo Enrique Lopez, records show, who authorities arrested Tuesday morning at his place of work.
Lopez, identified by police reports as a known Eastside “Traviesos” gang member with a moniker of “Cyclone,” was recognized by officers from numerous prior contacts, according to records.
Detectives searched his Goleta home and found clothes similar to those worn by a suspect in the surveillance video, reports revealed. A pair of shoes recovered from the home contained what appeared to be dried blood on the inner soles, according to police documents.
Records show that substance later tested presumptively positive for blood.
The victim, while refusing to give a statement to cops, reportedly told an emergency room doctor that he was attacked “because my friend killed somebody in a brawl about two years ago on State Street,” according to police reports.
Documents show that detectives learned Eastside gang members had caught wind of the victim’s statements to police about the Linares slaying while investigating an unrelated gang homicide.
By cooperating with authorities, the victim, identified in police reports as a known Eastside gang member as well, had apparently become a target of his own gang.
The victim, arrested for his involvement in the State Street gang brawl last year, had been in custody out of the Santa Barbara area until recently, according to records.
Attempts to contact police investigators yesterday for information about his criminal status were unsuccessful. Authorities remained tightlipped about the victim’s current health condition and hospital officials also declined to comment.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, who is prosecuting Juarez, 15, as an adult, did not deny or confirm that one of his witnesses had been assaulted. He said it would not be appropriate to comment about an ongoing police investigation.
However, Dozer did speak generally about the importance of ensuring witness safety. “Clearly the protection of witnesses is one of our foremost concerns whenever dealing with gang cases,” he said. “It’s not unusual for witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement to be intimidated or physically harmed.”
Dozer cited an incident in court on Wednesday, during which a young man in the audience left the courtroom after a juvenile witness identified Juarez as the person he saw wielding a knife during the State Street brawl.
Dozer said authorities apprehended the young man who left the courtroom after he was overheard apparently calling other gang members to tell them about the witness’s testimony.
“The word was passed on the street that our witness had identified Ricardo Juarez,” Dozer said.
Witness intimidation was also an issue during Juarez’ preliminary hearing, made evident when a juvenile witness for the prosecution who was present at the fight declined to use any names after reportedly receiving threats.
Trial Courts Executive Officer Gary Blair said there are strict rules against witness intimidation.
“Any attempt at dissuading a witness from testifying in a criminal case is a prosecutable offense and the penalty is severe if convicted,” he said.
Blair said witness intimidation is relatively rare, but acknowledged it is more common when dealing with gang cases.
Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, Juarez’s attorney, called the Sunday stabbing of a witness “shocking.” She echoed Dozer’s statements about the importance of making witnesses feel comfortable taking the stand.
“We want to do whatever we can to ensure that every witness that comes to court feels safe and is not threatened,” Atkins said.
The public defender also insisted her client, identified by police as a member of the Eastside “Traviesos” gang, had nothing to do with any act of intimidation.
“We know our client has nothing to do with this,” she said. “We’re concerned this could reflect on him and we’re terrified.”
Atkins has also argued that Juarez is not a member of a criminal street gang as part of her defense.
It’s unclear whether the victim in Sunday’s stabbing will ultimately testify in the trial.
Lopez remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail for attempted murder, participation in a criminal street gang and intimidating a witness. It is not clear whether he wielded a knife in the Sunday night attack.
Police officials said the investigation into the stabbing is ongoing and the other two suspects apparently remain at large.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

big effen surprise. more mexican gang fights. thanks Chief. your illegal friends are bringing so much to the table here in SB. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any BRIGHT ideas to help with the problems? People need to stop critizing and help come up with solutions. Our children not just Mexicans get into fights on a daily basis. This is a Community problem not just a Mexican problem!

Anonymous said...

And what makes you think they're illegals? ...And even if they are, they're products of local schools, local environment, here, our neighbors.

I would guess this would pretty much finish any "defense" for the young punk, Juarez. Not a member of a street gang? uhh, right.. If this is what his friends will do for him, the risks they are willing to take to protect him.......

Anonymous said...

how many white, black or asian gangs do you see in constant trouble here in SB? none. exactly. this is a cultural issue, and it needs to be nipped in the bud.
however, since the chief of police is probably here either illegally, or as an anchor baby, he will not step up to do anything to stop this. they need to get tougher with these multiple offenders. check the immigration status of the kids, and their parents if they are under 18. ship them all back to where they came from, if it turns out they are illegal.
spay and neuter anyone who is convicted of a gang crime. stop all the breeding of future gang bangers. it is getting real old around here, seeing this crap happen on a daily basis.

Noelle Aguayo said...

Ideas: How about a program similar to the Civilian Conservation Core, where a larg influx jobs that improve infrastructure for all, at respectable pay rates, are offered to youth who are in "at-risk" socio-economic categories? I know. no money. Simple idea. But really, if people have a sure footed ladder to a way out of dangerous situations, with added health care, self-esteem and a purpose, would they still choose a gang or a life of crime?

Anonymous said...

Look, I'm not going to overlook the fact that there has been a pathetic lack of success in containing gang violence over the last 2 yrs, but comments like: "your illegal friends are bringing so much to the table here in SB", only shows your ignorance and that fact that you are a spoiled jackass. Who do you think cleans your streets, takes out your trash and does all the jobs that you think you are too good to do?
Gang violence is a socio-economic problem, and you can find it all over the world. If you have a solution that doesn't involve guns, then you can submit your name for the Nobel Peace Prize.

No obvious solution except functional parenting said...

Mexicans can be deported.

The problem is that the anchor babies of Mexicans are Americans and often are gang stabbers.

Less than 20% of the gangsters are foreign nationals eligible for deportation, for all the good that ever would do anyway.

Anonymous said...

Its so sad how I see how you guys can just talk about mexicans but every time I go to a mexican restaurant I see mostly whites eating there. If they hate mexicans so much why even eat their food? Do you guys even realize how much hurt there is in the families of this people getting hurt. Its not only the Chiefs job to help this teenegers why dont all of us get involve in helping all this teenagers that the only thing they look in gangs is love and attention. Learn more about why people get in gangs and then talk. And by the way this was Mexico before it belong to the united states, so who should get deported?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me why being in a gang is "showing them love" then they feel it's OK to kill each other (rivals). Isn't killing taught to be a sin? Where are their morals? Why aren't their parents teaching them to be decent human beings?

Anonymous said...

Previous commentor has made some ricidulous statements. Mexican FOOD! Pleeeeez..........
Where are the loving parents and homes? (Working 2 or 3 jobs is not an excuse to neglect your children!)Why do Mexican children lack so much love and attention that they have to find it in gangs (if that is really the case)? What sordid concept of love and attention do they find in gangs?
These gangsters are NOT the PRODUCT of our local schools, they are the CHALLENGE of our local schools. Our teachers are heroes dealing with little to no parent support from Hispanic parents; disrespect is commonplace; and a serious disregard for an education is prevalent. The problem, as I see it, is a perverse pride in breeding hatred and entitlement in the very country that is housing, feeding, trying to educate, and paying their medical expenses (including birthing new anchor babies!). Unfortunately, there are no enforcible laws requiring gratitude and respect...

Mark M. Alvarado said...

It's unfortunate that the street violence in Santa Barbara is being treated as a racial problem.

There are means through law enforcement and neighborhood organizing that will decrease the problem.

The solution is based upon the will of the community to work together. If people continue to ignore and criticize the issue at the same time, I'm afraid things will not change.

The business and tourism industry has much at stake here and should be the leaders in bringing the community together. But by standing on the sidelines and waiting for the city and schools to do something will take a lot longer.

This is your problem Santa Barbara and you need to grab the bull by the horns here and get involved. Don't be scared of a bunch of little punks who use cowardly methods to hurt and kill their peers.

Your a great town Santa Barbara. You pull together and produce awesome community events, do the same here and watch what happens.

hi said...

What happened to the "CITo RATS" and "Northsiders"? White power gangs that I came across during my teenage years in Santa barbara. Well they all had their rich parents spoil them with money so they can buy their heroin. They are now all strung out and , kicking their habit in the locaL county jails, rescue mission, sober living houses that cost a fortune, or Malibu rehab. Places that just make those white boys become more of a dope head. Is that what you reccomend for the latinos? Go get strung out and stop the violence. Die from an overdose instead of a stabbing. It wont happen. Crimes of burglary in order to support their habit because parents cut them off wont make headlines like, latino stabbed again.