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Murder-Torture Trial For 6 Begins in Santa Maria

[DAY 3 UPDATE] The Ibarra murder trial begins with the first major legal wrinkle in the prosecution’s case. A key witness is challenged over her admitted drug use.

[DAY 2 UPDATE] Day two of the Santa Maria U-Haul murder trial starts with a witness testifying she was there in the house when Anthony Ibarra was killed.

[DAY 1] After the Judge denied final motions for a change of venue, opening statements began Monday in the murder trial of six men accused of killing Anthony Ibarra.

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen laid out to the jury a detailed chronology of events, using an overhead projector, revealing what the prosecution alleges was the careful and premeditated case of kidnapping, torture and murder of the 28-year-old Ibarra in Santa Maria on March 17, 2013, for unpaid drug debts to a notorious street gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia.

Bramsen told the jury in her opening statements that Ibarra, while not a gang member himself, relied on local gang members involved in the case to supply him with methamphetamine for sale locally, but was behind in paying “taxes” to the gang members and was trying to avoid doing so.

Bramsen told the jury Ibarra was tracked down by those accused, brought to a home in Santa Maria, and then pounced on, beaten, tortured and killed for his failure to pay his “taxes.” Bramsen told jurors there are witnesses whom were in the the home during the ordeal who will testify that Ibarra pleaded for his life but was eventually left to bleed to death with multiple stab and puncture wounds involving a machete, screwdriver and other objects.

Bramsen told the jury all of the accused participated in some way in the capture, kidnapping, torture and killing of Ibarra and should be found guilty of murder, with enhancements including lying in wait, witness intimidation and gang affiliation.

Bramsen sayid witness testimony along with physical and DNA evidence, cell phone and phone records and the rented U-Haul truck records link all of the six defendants to the Ibarra murder.

Each of the six men accused has an attorney. Those lawyers countered the prosecution, telling jurors that while their clients are associated with local Santa Maria street gangs, and are known drug dealers and users, there is nothing in the evidence to prove any of the six defendants have any links to the Mexican Mafia.

Defense attorneys told the jury that much of the evidence is based on testimony from witnesses with criminal backgrounds, known drug users, drug dealers and close associates of gang members who are trying to avoid involvement in the crime and prosecution as well as incomplete autopsy results showing the exact cause of death.

Defense attorneys argue the evidence never links their clients to physically harming Ibarra themselves, and while they were at the home where Ibarra was killed either before, during or after his death, they had nothing to do with his murder and and were simply trying to collect on his unpaid drug taxes.

Defense attorneys told the jury the real killers are still out there because Ibarra had a well known reputation of not paying his “taxes” and had many enemies in town.

The defense also told the jury some of the star witnesses for the prosecution may actually be involved in Ibarra’s death, since he was still alive when the six defendants left the house in question.

At best, one of the defense attorneys said his client may be guilty of being an accomplice to murder after the fact having driven the the now infamous U-Haul Truck to the Orcutt neighborhood where it was found with Ibarra’s body inside.

The trial resumes Tuesday in Santa Maria Juvenile Hall Court.

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