Murder convict sentenced
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill has sentenced Omar Leon to 25 years to life for the murder of Lilia Munoz, who was his fiancé and the mother of their three children.
The sentence was handed down Friday.
On June 4, 2019, Santa Barbara police arrived to a residence on Soledad Street to learn that the defendant had murdered Ms. Munoz had placed her body inside of a closet located in a bathroom. Her parents discovered her body when they arrived at the residence. frantically searching for their daughter, as explained in a news release from District Attorney Joyce Dudley’s office.
Approximately 24 hours prior to the discovery of Ms. Munoz’s body, Mr. Leon strangled and suffocated Ms. Munoz. To conceal his crime, he dragged her body to the bathroom where he placed her inside the closet. Mr. Leon then lied to Ms. Munoz’s parents regarding her whereabouts, stating she had left the residence to go out with friends and never returned.
On Jan. 25, 2022, Mr. Leon pleaded guilty to the charge of willful, deliberate, premeditated murder in violation of Penal Code section 187(a).
At Mr. Leon’s sentencing, several members of Ms. Munoz’s family made Victim Impact Statements, expressing their love for Ms. Munoz. Her children also provided letters to the court, as well as drawings they created for their mother.
District Attorney Dudley said, “This outcome would not have been possible without the extraordinary investigation work by the Santa Barbara Police Department and District Attorney Investigators Dan McGrew and Jeff Ellis. Along with the careful and zealous prosecution team led by DDAs Megan Chanda and Hannah Meyer and Victim Advocate Lourdes Negrete. They all focused on justice and services to help the victim’s devastated family left behind.”
The District Attorney’s Office reminds people who are suffering from domestic abuse (or know someone who is suffering from it) that there’s help available. The Domestic Violence Solutions Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 805-964-5245. The Victim-Witness Assistance Program of the District Attorney’s Office is also available by calling 805-568-2400. You can also find information at the websites for Domestic Violence Solutions (www.dvsolutions.org) and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney Victim Witness Unit (www.countyofsb.org/da/vwdv).
— Dave Mason
Hollister Ranch Fire 90% contained
The 120-acre Hollister Ranch Fire was reported Tuesday to be 90% contained.
Today, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will work on the fire with hand crews supported by two engines and two water tenders, according to Capt. Daniel Bertucelli. The public information officer said the goal is for 100% containment by Thursday morning.
— Dave Mason
Firefighters respond to Bath Street fire
SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara City Fire Department responded to a house fire Tuesday morning in the 400 block of Bath Street.
Crews found smoke coming from the single-story home and extinguished the fire quickly. The fire department said there were no residents inside.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
— Dave Mason
CHP: Rely on sober drivers
If you drink, don’t drive.
That reminder comes from the California Highway Patrol, which urges people drinking on Patrick’s Day to ride with a designated sober driver or use a rideshare service, public transit or taxi.
“Not having a plan in place if your celebration includes the use of alcohol can result in a crash, jail time, injuries or even death,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray.
Last year on St. Patrick’s Day, CHP officers made 211 arrests for driving under the influence. On that same day, three people died and 76 people were injured statewide as a result of DUI crashes, according to CHP.
Besides the risk of injury and death, DUIs can mean up to $15,000 or more in terms of attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates and car reports, the CHP noted.
The CHP joins with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in reminding motorists that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”
The CHP encourages the public to report impaired drivers by calling 9-1-1 and giving a description of the vehicle, its location and the direction it’s heading.
— Dave Mason