MS-13 Gang Murder Trial in Santa Barbara Ongoing without Jury


By Eric Rodriguez

SANTA BARBARA, CA – The judge here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court last week cited objections to the type of evidence that will be presented to the jury in the so-called “MS-13” case, involving five men accused of the murders of 10 people and the attempted murders of 14 others.

The accused, and their lawyers, according to Santa Barbara Noozhawk, are Jose Ricardo Lainez, attorney Billy Redell; Jose Juan Sanchez Torres, attorney Jeff Chambliss; Jose Balmore Saravia Lainez, attorney Ron Bobo; Olvin Serrano, attorney William Davis; and Jose Narciso Escobar Hernandez, attorney Meghan Behrens.

The case has been ongoing since 2016 when the individuals were arrested for the crimes.

The accused are allegedly members of the infamous gang Mara Salvatrucha, typically referred to as MS-13, an international gang that started in the 1970’s-80’s in Los Angeles, and spread across Central America after the deportation of many of its members.

According to the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, the gang is estimated to have 30,000-50,000 members worldwide.

Last week, the judge disputed the prosecution’s representation of some of the evidence to be presented in court to the jury, noting that “the information is admissible, but the format is inappropriate…it is a mock-up of a screenshot…this is unacceptable. You can’t make something look like something that it is not.”

The evidence presented was based on the raw material that Google provided to the prosecution. It supposedly represented web searches allegedly done by one of the defendants.

The prosecution maintained the document was formatted in a way that was recognizable to the jury rather than being just a screenshot, and promised it would be clarified that this was not a screenshot but a representation of the search.

The judge then restated that “all the information is admissible and relevant. However, the reproductions of a Google screenshot are denied.”

The session will resume to review images depicting the autopsy of the victims after the defense notes which images represent truly necessary information to the jury, while respecting the victims’ families.


About The Author

Eric is a senior at UCSB double majoring in Spanish and English Literature. He is from Oxnard, California and has an interest in law.

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