Grisly details of Paso Robles murder revealed
March 12, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
Bizarre details of the murder of a Paso Robles motel maintenance man were described in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Friday by investigators and a witness who depicted four people planning to kill a man they accused of kidnapping and raping women and underage boys.
On Monday, Aug. 22, the body of Robert Uyeno, 55, was discovered in a room at the Farmhouse Motel on Spring Street with signs he had been restrained, beaten and stabbed 21 times, lacerating his carotid artery and puncturing his heart, lungs, and spleen.
On the Sunday evening prior to the August murder, the four alleged methamphetamine users accused of killing Uyeno were sharing a room at the Wine Country Inn in Paso Robles when a fellow occupant of the motel, Millisa Fandel, stopped by to say she was headed to get burgers. She asked if she could bring some back to the four suspects, Alfonso “Pancho” Fierros, 32, of Paso Robles; Jennifer Velten, 29, of Paso Robles; John Wesley Barrett, 41, of Atascadero and Tabatha Brown, 29, of San Luis Obispo.
Fandel testified that she told the defendants she was angry because Velton had not freed her from the victim’s room at the Farmhouse Motel where Fandel had been kept captive for 12 hours. Velton allegedly responded by saying the victim had also kept her hostage in the past.
Investigators said details of the murder differed slightly in statements the three defendants — Fierros, Velton and Brown – gave them. Judge John Trice ruled that Barrett, the fourth suspect, determined to have an IQ of around 65, is not competent to stand trial.
In interviews with detectives, the three defendants agreed that after Fandel left the room, they discussed allegations that the victim was known to have repeatedly raped a 16-year-old mentally challenged boy and to tie up and rape women he would agree to trade sex for drugs with. The four suspects then agreed to make the victim pay for his actions by grabbing his dope bag, taking back a computer he allegedly took from Brown and beating him. Velten then texted the victim offering to trade him sex for drugs. Fandel told detectives she found gay porn on a laptop for the victim to watch while she sat on the bed. After a while, she texted Fierros, telling him she had left the door unlocked.
Barrett and Fierros then allegedly barged in, tackled the victim, tied his hands behind his back and Barrett choked him with a belt while Fierros kicked and punched him, a detective said.
Fierros stabbed the victim multiple times with a knife he found in the victim’s room. After a while he complained to his girlfriend, Velton, the blade was getting dull. Velton discovered a red, utility knife on the night stand for Fierros to continue to stab the victim with. At one point he also used a leather punch or ice pick to stab the victim, a detective said.
Brown waited outside the victim’s room during the assault, and headed back to the Wine Country Inn with Velton, Barrett and Fierros who snatched the victim’s dope sack, cigarettes, a cell phone, lottery tickets and several laptops, according to detectives.
Shortly after they arrived back at the Wine Country Inn, Velton realized she had left her purse in the victim’s Farmhouse Motel room and went back to get it. She and Fierros claim the victim was still alive but unconscious at that point.
The four alleged murderers then shared methamphetamine they had stolen, while Barrett, Velton and Fierros discussed plans to leave town.
Fandel testified Barrett asked her before leaving the Inn the afternoon of the murder, “Is it true about that guy? Is it true he ties up women and rapes them? I have it taken care of. I need to get out of town.”
Fandel argued that the victim may have kept her hostage, but he never tied her up or raped her. She also claimed the syringes detectives found on the nightstand were not for injecting drugs into the victim’s veins, but were for pumping meth into the victim’s rectum in order to get high.
After the suspects left, Fandel told police detectives about Barrett’s alleged confession. Brown, Velton and Fierros pled not guilty and remain in San Luis Obispo County Jail.
Friday’s preliminary hearing concluded with Judge Trice ruling that sufficient evidence was presented to proceed to trial. Trice noted that even though Brown did not seem as culpable as the other two defendants, she should also be charged with first degree murder because she is accused of paying the other defendants to commit the robbery.
Trice set the defendants’ arraignments for March 20.