Thursday, October 16, 2008

Juarez murder trial time line


The People vs Ricardo Juarez Time Line

March 14, 2007 — School lets out early; an infrequent occurrence that is apparently so riddled with gang violence some Santa Barbara Police officers refer to them as “gang fight days.” Flocks of young people, including around 100 gang members, gather on State Street, where the Westside and Eastside gangs were set to clash.
Just after 1 p.m., a brawl breaks out in the bustling intersection of State and Carrillo streets. Witnesses say glass bottles were thrown, sticks and bats swung and in the midst of the fight, Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, 14, is seen by civilian witnesses swinging a knife at 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares. Linares makes his way to the valet parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue, where he collapses and dies in a planter, while police detain Juarez and several other people less than a block away.

March 16, 2007 — Juarez is charged with murder in the stabbing death of Linares. The District Attorney’s Office says the boy, who turned 14 a month before the killing, will be tried as an adult. The charges include gang enhancements, which allege the boy committed the murder to benefit a criminal street gang.
Local attorneys and faculty in the Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies at UC Santa Barbara vocally oppose the DA’s decision.

April 27, 2007 — After his arraignment is rescheduled twice, Juarez pleads not guilty to all charges in Superior Court. The boy’s legal counsel, Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, issues statement to the media expressing her belief that her client should be prosecuted in juvenile court, where 10 other boys charged with crimes in connection to the fight were being tried.

June 29, 2007 — The Daily Sound publishes Juarez’s photo on the front page. Atkins tells a Daily Sound reporter she plans to seek a gag order if the paper does not stop publishing the photo.

July 3, 2007 — The Daily Sound is served a subpoena from Atkins demanding all of the newspaper’s unpublished photos taken around the time of the stabbing on March 14. Daily Sound Editor and Publisher Jeramy Gordon vows to fight the subpoena and refuses to hand the photos over.

July 5, 2007 — Superior Court Judge Brian Hill denies a request by Atkins to issue a wide-reaching gag order in the case. Atkins cites a story in the Daily Sound that quoted several Santa Barbara police officers, including Chief of Police Cam Sanchez, as the reason for her request. Hill said he feels it’s too early in the case grant the gag order.

July 31, 2007 — After contemplating arguments from Daily Sound legal counsel Michael Cooney on why turning over unpublished material to the courts at the behest of a subpoena would have severe First Amendment implications, Judge Hill orders the paper to hand them over anyway. In his ruling, the judge said the defendant’s fair trial rights outweighed any reason the newspaper would have for holding onto the photos. Hill said: “Every bit of evidence that sheds light on what took place [on March 14] is important. This is a search for justice and truth. All the factors weigh in favor of disclosure.”

Aug. 2, 2007 — Faced with steep fines and the colossal costs of continuing its legal fight, Gordon agrees to hand over the subpoenaed photos to the court. According to Gordon, not doing so could bankrupt the paper — a risk he wasn’t willing to take. He calls it a “sad day for journalism and our rights as Americans,” and publishes about 40 of previously unpublished photos in that day’s newspaper.

Aug. 6, 2007 — Juarez’s preliminary hearing begins in a heavily fortified courtroom located in the county’s jury services building. The reason cited for the courtroom switch is security. Several days into the hearing, Atkins begins putting on her case, which weighs heavily on the possibility that another boy, referred to in court as Ricardo R., inflicted the fatal stab wound on Linares.

Aug. 21, 2007 — In the 12th day of one of the longest preliminary hearings in local history, Judge Hill finds sufficient evidence exists to hold a trial and halts the proceedings. Hill hands down his ruling immediately after hearing Juarez describe to another boy in an audio recording, known as the “whisper tape,” how he repeatedly stabbed Linares and watched as blood came from the boy’s mouth. “How do you explain that away,” Hill asked Atkins. “I understand the theory of the defense. [However] the evidence is pretty clear here.”

Aug. 23, 2007 — Ricardo R. pleads guilty in juvenile court to assaulting Linares with a knife during the March 14 gang melee.

Oct. 25, 2007 — In his post preliminary hearing arraignment, Juarez pleads not guilty to the charge of murder and all gang enhancements. Atkins pledges to file motion seeking the dismissal of the preliminary hearing. The defense also issues subpoenas to the News-Press and Independent seeking additional unpublished photos. The News-Press hands over its photos without question. The Independent pledges to fight the subpoena.

Nov. 5, 2007 — Local youths gather in front of DA’s Office to protest the decision to try Juarez as an adult. One protester who asked to remain anonymous said, “Even the District Attorney’s Office makes mistakes.”

Nov. 19, 2007 — Judge Hill orders the Independent to turn over its photos despite arguments from the weekly paper that mirrors those used by the Daily Sound as to why unpublished photos should not be used to aid any party.

Nov. 29, 2007 — The deadline for the Independent to comply with the subpoena passes, and Hill finds the paper’s photographer Paul Wellman in contempt of court. However, no fines are levied because the Independent appeals Hill’s ruling.

Dec. 13, 2007 — The defense files a 75-page motion claiming widespread errors made by the judge and Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer during the preliminary hearing warranted the case’s dismissal.

Jan. 28, 2008 — Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa convenes a hearing to consider Atkins’ motion to dismiss the case. Atkins tells the judge “shortcuts” made primarily by Judge Hill during the preliminary hearing are at the core of her argument.
Also on this day: The Independent was dealt a blow in its fight against Hill’s photo ruling when the California Court of Appeal for the 2nd District declined to hear the case. The lack of interest on behalf of the court essentially meant it agreed with Hill’s earlier finding. However, the Independent felt the state Supreme Court would see it otherwise.

Feb. 4, 2008 — Citing a procedural error by the prosecution in the days following the preliminary hearing, Judge Ochoa dismissed all charges against Juarez. The judge said the prosecution erred when it filed “information,” or the charging document, seven days after the deadline. Defense co-counsel Jennifer Archer said she hoped the judge’s ruling would give the prosecution proper time to reconsider its earlier decision to try Juarez as an adult.
Three hours after Ochoa dismissed the case, Dozer had Juarez rearrested. He charged the boy with murder, gang enhancements and also said the decision was made to once again try the boy as an adult.

Feb. 11, 2008 — Four days after his 15th birthday, Juarez pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder during his third arraignment in 11 months. Though Atkins did not file a motion to have Hill disqualified from hearing the second preliminary hearing, she made it clear she felt the case should be assigned to another judge.

Feb. 20, 2008 — Judge Hill says he found no legal reason to recuse himself from hearing the case again, and informed the attorneys he would stay on as judge.

March 13, 2007 — The Independent was dealt another blow in its effort to retain possession of its unpublished photos when the state Supreme Court, in a decision the appellate court, said it would not hear the case. As a result, the Independent was faced with either handing the photos over, allowing its photographer to go to jail or begin paying fines. Atkins reacted to the high court’s ruling by saying: “We just want to get the pictures already.”

March 26, 2008 — With a thick sense of déjà vu, the second preliminary hearing for Juarez in less than a year began. Dozer wasted little time getting to the point, showing for his first piece of evidence a videotaped interview of Juarez with police, during which Juarez admits to swinging the knife at Linares.

April 2, 2008 — Six days after the preliminary hearing began, Hill arrives at the same conclusion he did during the first hearing and orders Juarez to stand trial on all charges.

June 19, 2008 — Atkins files another motion requesting the preliminary hearing be dismissed. She cites her belief that Juarez did not inflict the fatal stab wound, and also challenges testimony given by a Santa Barbara Police officer, in which the officer characterized the Eastside “Traviesos” as a criminal street gang.

July 7, 2008 — Judge Ochoa moves the case toward trial after he denies the defense’s request to dismiss the preliminary hearing. Jury selection begins days later.

Aug. 6, 2008 — After 15-months of hearings, Juarez’s murder trial commences in Hill’s Department 2 courtroom. While prosecutor Dozer says he’ll prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Juarez committed murder, Atkins says she will tell a far different story: that of Ricardo R., and how he is responsible for the slaying.

Aug. 10, 2008 — Santa Barbara Police respond to a gang-related stabbing in a hotel parking lot on upper State Street, where they find an 18-year-old victim bleeding profusely from several wounds.

Aug. 14, 2008 — While looking through police reports, a Daily Sound reporter discovers the 18-year-old victim was scheduled to testify in the Juarez trial two days after his attack. Dozer confirms his witness was the victim. Police records show the man was stabbed in the chest, causing his lung to collapse. He also suffered a severe cut to his face, splitting his nose and upper lip.
A suspect arrested in connection to the stabbing was identified as an Eastside gang member, the same gang the victim apparently belonged to, police reports said. This is also the gang police say Juarez is a member of. Atkins says she’s “terrified” the acts of intimidation could reflect poorly on her client, and insists he had nothing to do with the attack.

Aug. 16, 2008 — The prosecution calls three juvenile witnesses to the stand earlier than originally planned in order to prevent further witness intimidation.

Aug. 19, 2008 — With a thick scar zigzagging down his face, the prosecution witness who was nearly killed in an apparent attempt to prevent his testimony, took the witness stand. The man was escorted into court under heavy guard via a secret route. When the witness was asked to recall what he saw on March 14, he said he couldn’t remember what happened. Reading from a transcript of a police interview with the witness, Dozer asks the man if he could remember telling authorities he saw Juarez pull out a knife during the fight. But the witness says he couldn’t remember saying anything like that.

Sept. 22, 2008 — Upon the urging of Dozer, Judge Hill issues a gag order that prevents the attorneys from speaking to the press. Dozer says he took issue with quotes attributed to Atkins in a Sept. 20 Daily Sound story. The story was about Hill’s decision to prevent a child psychologist from testifying on behalf of the defense.

Oct. 6, 2008 — Dozer launches into a more than three-hour long closing statement, during which he calls Juarez a “gangster killer.” While the prosecutor said he believes he proved Juarez murdered Linares, he tells the jury it could also find the boy guilty of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon. Atkins also begins her closing arguments, which don’t conclude until late the next day.

Oct. 8, 2008 — A jury of 10 women and two men begin deliberating.

Oct. 15, 2008 — After four days of deliberation, the jury finds Juarez guilty of voluntary manslaughter, gang enhancements and personally assaulting the victim with a knife. The maximum sentence Juarez could receive is 22 years in prison. Sentencing will likely take place in December.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting and sad that this trial has had such deleterious effects upon the youth...the fact that Juarez was tried as an adult in adult court meant that the protections for juvenile court were not in force. Witnesses had very little protection from public testimony...and, therefore, did not testify. The choice to prosecute him as an adult meant that a bunch of adults got to "feel good" but the youth who were the most important witnesses were scared to testify. This is not a great way to arrive at an accurate picture of events.

Anonymous said...

I agree. It was unwise and wrong to try this boy as an adult. Seems like the jury came to a similar conclusion in finding vol manslaughter rather than murder. Either way, both families must be devastated and our community is no better off for this verdict. Sad, all around imo.