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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 3rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 26 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 26

Anthony Ibarra trial changes venues

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Santa Maria Attorney David Bixby isn’t exactly thrilled with the court’s handling of the murder trial in which his client, David Maldonado Sr., is a defendant.

Maldonado Sr., also known as “Pops,” is being tried alongside his son, grandson, and eight other people for the gang-related torture and stabbing of 28-year-old Anthony Ibarra, whose body was found in the back of a U-haul truck in Orcutt on March 19.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court recently announced a change of venue for the pre-trial hearings from Santa Maria’s Dept. 8 courtroom to the newly built Santa Maria Juvenile Hall facility. Dept. 8 wasn’t large enough to comfortably hold hearings. The juvenile hall courtroom is the largest facility in Santa Maria; it’s easy to secure, has holding cells, and won’t cost the county any extra funds, according to Darrel Parker, Santa Barbara County Superior Court executive officer.

Bixby said he has a couple of issues with the change. His first concern has to do with the minors who are held at the juvenile facility and defendants in the case.

“All the heroes now are showing up for trial in their venue,” Bixby said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The second concern has to do with the amount of information that’s been released to the public. Specific and gory details about the case were released in the form of court transcripts from grand jury proceedings. Media outlets in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara ran many of those details.

“It’s being tried in the press, essentially,” Bixby said. “It’s important that these people get a fair trial.”

Those details could become a problem for defense attorneys when it comes time to choose a jury. Bixby said it’s hard for jurors to differentiate what they’ve seen in the news and what they hear during a trial. He said he’d like the trial to be moved out of the Santa Maria area because of what’s allegedly been leaked to the public.

Executive officer Parker said the courtroom at the juvenile facility is completely separate from the facility itself, and there would be no minors around during the pre-trial hearings. He added that it was unlikely a trial would take place there.

The county is considering places like the Fairpark or the old Santa Maria Public Library building as potential venues for the actual trial.

“It really depends on how many defendants are in the trial,” Parker said.