10 murder defendants plead not guilty

All 10 defendants in the Anthony Ibarra murder trial entered pleas of not guilty Friday in the Santa Maria Juvenile Courtroom.

They are charged with the March 17 torture and murder of the 28-year-old Ibarra in a west Santa Maria home. Judge Rick Brown set their trial date for May 12, 2014.

The defendants — Reyes Gonzales, Ramon Maldonado, Ramon Maldonado Jr., Santos Sauceda, Robert Sosa, David Maldonado, Anthony Solis, Jason Castillo, Verenisa Aviles and Pedro Torres Jr. — all appeared in court Friday for their arraignment. Attorneys for each of the defendants entered pleas of not guilty and denied all special allegations which include gang enhancements.

Addison Steele, who is representing Solis, chose to not identify his client by name nor provide his date of birth. Steele said it is his regular practice, citing California Penal Code Section 989.

The defendants all agreed to time waivers through either June 30 or Dec. 31, 2014.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen estimated the trial and jury selection would last eight to 10 weeks. She said it was nice to get the arraignment done after several fruitless attempts.

“It’s very positive whenever you have a trial case that’s moving forward,” she said, adding the progress of the proceedings will probably pick up now that a trial date has been set. “It’s a little different because we did a grand jury. When you do a grand jury trials often move at a much quicker pace.”

The defendants are due back in court together on Dec. 13 for a readiness and settlement hearing which will be held at Santa Maria Juvenile Court.

Attorneys for Torres, Ramon Maldonado and David Maldonado asked for separate readiness and settlement hearings in November. Those hearings were set for Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 in the Santa Maria courthouse.

Daralyn Balden, representing Torres, was the first to ask for a readiness and settlement hearing in November.

Torres is charged with accessory to murder after the fact, the same charges Carmen Cardenas pleaded no contest to in September. She was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

The rest are charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Special allegations include lying in wait, torture, kidnap and committing crimes in the furtherance of a criminal street gang.

Prior to the hearing bailiffs announced that nobody under age 18 would be allowed in the courtroom. When asked about the announcement, Brown said it was his decision that the court enforced truancy laws and any school-aged children would need permission or a waiver from their schools to attend future hearings.


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