Three defendants who have been charged with murder in a gang-alleged June stabbing death could face the death penalty, according to prosecutors.
Igor Rai Ortiz, 20, Angel Rafael Bajaras-Flores, 31, and Adelain Leilani Ibarra, 20, all of Santa Barbara, are charged with the murder of 29-year-old Alberto Torres. Alondra Ochoa, 18, of Santa Barbara, is charged as an accessory.
In a separate case, Alejandro De La Torre, 23, is also charged as an accessory. Prosecutors are considering filing a motion to join his case with the other defendants.
All defendants, alleged Westside gang members, face gang enhancement charges in the case.
The defendants appeared for a preliminary hearing setting conference before Judge James Herman Wednesday afternoon in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
Mr. Torres’ family was present for Wednesday’s hearing. They have attended most of the hearings in the case thus far.
Judge Herman continued the preliminary hearing setting date to Oct. 30. Attorneys from both sides questioned whether they would be ready by that date, citing the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence.
The preliminary hearing will determine if the evidence is sufficient for the defendants to stand trial as charged.
“Given the scope of this case, the number of defendants involved, as well as the nature of the charges, this case is outside the normal timelines in terms of resolution,” said Judge Herman.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Siegel said her office has not decided if it will seek the death penalty against Mr. Ortiz, Mr. Bajaras-Flores and Ms. Ibarra.
“Traditionally that is something we would consider at or around the preliminary hearing,” she said. “We have discussed that with three of the counsel whose clients are charged with the special circumstance.
“There is still an ongoing investigation relative to potential outstanding individuals,” said Ms. Siegel.
At 1:15 a.m. June 1, Santa Barbara Police Department officers were called to a report of an assault in the 1300 block of Cacique Street. Officers located an unconscious man, later identified as Mr. Torres.
He suffered multiple stab wounds and was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
During a bail hearing for Mr. De La Torre in late August, prosecutors claimed the the first four defendants were out tagging in Eastside Gang territory when they saw Mr. Torres and attacked him outside his home.