A new judge will preside over the criminal case against a Carpinteria man accused of beating another man to death.
Scott Robert Fleming, 29, appeared for a preliminary hearing setting conference before Judge Michael Carrozzo on Monday.
During the hearing, Judge Carrozzo recused himself from the case and assigned it to Judge Thomas Adams. Judge Carrozzo did not provide a reason for his decision.
Mr. Fleming will appear before Judge Adams for another preliminary hearing setting conference on Sept. 6.
The preliminary hearing will determine whether the evidence is sufficient for Mr. Flemming to stand trial as charged.
He was charged with voluntary manslaughter on Wednesday 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.
Mr. Fleming is represented by Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Archer. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday. Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod is prosecuting the case.
A memorial for Mr. Romero is set up near The Carpenter’s Chapel on 9th Street in Carpinteria.
A rosary and viewing are scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Carpinteria. A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 9, also at St. Joseph’s, with a funeral to follow.
To donate to Mr. Romero’s family, visit www.gofundme.com/f/erik-romero-family-support-fund.
At 1:20 a.m. July 20, Santa Barbara County 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,.
Mr. Romero was taken to an area hospital in critical condition. He was removed from life support on July 23.
Detectives identified Mr. Fleming as the suspect and obtained a warrant for his arrest, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
On July 22, detectives from the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations and Special Operations bureaus arrested Mr. Fleming with help from Ventura Police Department officers.
A source told the News-Press that friends urged Mr. Fleming to turn himself in to law enforcement. He is being held on $100,000 bail and remains in County Jail.
Anyone with information on the incident can call the non-emergency sheriff’s dispatch line at 683-2724, or make an anonymous tip through the sheriff’s office website atwww.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip.