Scott Fleming refused to waive his speedy trial right
“I would not like to waive more time,” said Scott Robert Fleming of Carpinteria moments after being held to answer voluntary manslaughter charges.
Mr. Fleming, 30, appeared for a preliminary hearing before Judge Thomas Adams on Friday in the Figueroa Division of Santa Barbara County Superior Court. Judge Adams listened to testimony from Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives and determined there was “probable cause to believe the alleged acts did in fact occur and that those acts were committed by the defendant Scott Robert Fleming.”
Mr. Fleming’s demand for a speedy trial set deadlines for his case into motion. According to California Penal Code Section 1382, prosecutors must file “information” — a statement of the upheld charges — within 15 days of the preliminary hearing.
Judge Adams set Mr. Fleming’s arraignment on the information for Feb. 28. If Mr. Fleming continues to demand a speedy trial, his trial must start within 60 days of the arraignment on information.
On July 24, 2019, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Fleming with voluntary manslaughter in the death of 32-year-old Eric Romero
, with enhancements for a second-strike allegation and having a prior serious or violent felony conviction.
Testimony during the preliminary hearing revealed what witnesses say happened during the final hours of Mr. Romero’s life. Records of the hearing were provided to the News-Press.
At 1:20 a.m. on July 20, 2019, sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a fight and found Mr. Romero lying on the ground in the 4900 block of 9th Street in Carpinteria.
Senior Deputy Wayne Flick testified that James Hill and his girlfriend, Jamie Goodwin, heard a commotion in a parking lot near their residence in the area of Linden Avenue and 9th Street.
Dep. Flick testified that, during an interview, Mr. Hill claimed he saw a group of seven to eight men who appeared to know each other.
Mr. Hill told Dep. Flick he heard the names Will and Dave or David during the group’s argument. Mr. Hill identified Will as a white male and told Det. Flick that Will got into an altercation with a man in a collared shirt.
Detectives later identified Will as Will Kellogg and the man in the white-collared shirt as David Horton.
“He (Mr. Hill) at one point saw the man in the white shirt walking off. At that point he noticed Will did not have a shirt on any longer. Subsequent to that he saw Will begin arguing with another male who he (Mr. Hill) described as chubby, about 6 feet tall, wearing a maroon shirt or red burgundy shirt. Had a baseball cap and a beard,” testified Dep. Flick.
Detectives later identified Mr. Fleming as the man in the red shirt.
He testified Mr. Hill said Mr. Kellogg walked east down 9th Street and another subject, later identified as Mr. Romero, appeared to be trying to calm Mr. Fleming down.
“After the incident began with Will, with no shirt, and the subject with the maroon shirt, that fight, or argument ended. Will walked off and at that point he (Mr. Hill) saw another subject (Mr. Romero) who he (Mr. Hill) said appeared to be trying to calm down the guy in the maroon shirt (Mr. Fleming),” testified Dep. Flick.
“The maroon shirt subject was getting aggressive with the subject that was trying to calm him down and he ultimately sucker punched him.”
“He (Mr. Hill) basically described the subject in the maroon shirt throwing several punches. He wasn’t clear if any connected or not but he was focused on hearing that last punch that knocked the victim to the ground and also hearing the victim’s head hit the pavement,” testified Det. Flick, who added that Mr. Hill said Mr. Fleming appeared to be under the influence of drugs because Mr. Fleming said he was “ready to tie one on,” and “ready to fight anybody.”
Mr. Fleming’s attorney Jennifer Archer questioned Dep. Flick on whether Mr. Hill actually saw the blow that took Mr. Romero to the ground.
“All that Mr. Hill saw was the guy in the red shirt trying to swing at Mr. Romero as he was backing up correct? He did not see any of those punches connect, correct?” asked Ms. Archer.
“His focus was on that last punch that knocked Mr. Romero to ground,” responded Dep. Flick, who explained that he didn’t clarify with Mr. Hill whether he saw the punches connect or not.
Dep. Flick appeared to imply Mr. Hill did see the punch in response to a question from Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod.
“At one point he got the punch that knocked him to the ground which Hill described as a sucker punch that is what stood out in his (Mr. Hill’s) mind,” said Dep. Flick.
Mr. Romero was taken to an area hospital in critical condition. He was removed from life support on July 23, 2019.
On July 22, 2019, detectives from the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation and Special Operations bureaus arrested Mr. Fleming with help from Ventura Police Department officers.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Detective Adam Alegria testified Mr. Fleming was arrested at his girlfriend’s house on East Ocean Avenue in Ventura.
Det. Alegria said deputies found a maroon RVCA brand T-shirt and blood-stained Levi’s jeans. He testified that Mr. Fleming’s girlfriend, Evilyn Dominguez, said Mr. Fleming told her on the day of the incident he was drinking with his friends Will, David and Eric, in Carpinteria, he got in a fight, and Will and Eric had been hurt.
“At some point during the night they were walking from one bar to another and an altercation occurred between Mr. Fleming and Will because there was an allegation Mr. Fleming had relations with Will’s ex-girlfriend. He said that after he and Will got in a fight, Will and David left and next thing he knew Eric was on the ground,” testified Det. Alegria.
Ms. Archer argued to Judge Adams there was not enough evidence to support the charges against Mr. Fleming, and noted that witnesses saw another man standing over Mr. Romero before law enforcement and medical personnel arrived.
Mr. Weichbrod argued Mr. Fleming’s conduct after the incident, fleeing the scene and telling his girlfriend about the incident but not law enforcement, was evidence of a guilty conscience.
“It’s a totally tragic series of events,” said Judge Adams as he announced his decision.“I’m going to hold him to answer on the allegations.”