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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 22nd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 33

Defendants in Ibarra murder trial enter pleas

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

After months of arraignment hearing continuances, defendants held for the March gang-related torture and murder of 28-year-old Anthony Ibarra entered not guilty pleas for all charges on Oct. 18.

The 10 remaining defendants in the case also denied all special allegations tied to the charges against them during the arraignment hearing. Defendant Carmen Cardenas pleaded no contest in September to the charges of being an accessory to murder after the fact with a gang enhancement.

In May, a criminal grand jury indicted Ramon Maldonado, Reyes Gonzales, Jr., Santos Sauceda, David Maldonado, Robert Sosa, Anthony Solis, Verenisa Aviles, Ramon Maldonado Jr., and Jason Castillo on murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. Ramon and David Maldonado, Gonzales, Sauceda, Sosa, Solis, and Castillo were also indicted for the special allegations of lying in wait, torture, kidnapping, and committing a crime to further street gang activity. Cardenas and Pedro Torres were indicted for accessory to the murder after the fact with a gang enhancement charge.

At the Oct. 18 hearing, Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Rick Brown set a trial start date for May 12, 2014. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Ann Bramsen estimated the trial will last eight to 10 weeks—should all 10 defendants remain in the proceedings.

Another issue addressed during the hearing was the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department not adhering to an order made by Brown during the previous pre-trial hearing. At the last court date, all parties—attorneys, Brown, and the Sheriff’s Department—agreed that due to the size and extremity of the case, attorneys would be able to make appointments to see their clients in Santa Maria on days prisoners normally aren’t transported from the jail in Santa Barbara.

“I arrived at the appointed time and place,” said Michael Scott, Ramon Maldonado’s attorney.

But Maldonado never arrived, Scott told the judge.

“You can make all the orders that you want,” Scott said during the hearing. “But if the sheriff is going to ignore them, there’s no point.”

A sheriff’s deputy responded during the hearing and said the department’s policy is to not transport such high-risk prisoners as Scott’s client on those off days.

“We’ll accomplish [the meetings] in court, if necessary,” Brown said.

Scott and other attorneys with high-risk clients in the case were forced to set court dates with the judge so their clients could be transported to Santa Maria. Those dates aren’t official hearings.

“We put the case on the calendar,” Scott told the Sun after the hearing. “Then the sheriff has to transport the prisoner.”

The next official court meeting in the case is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the Santa Maria juvenile courtroom.