Santa Maria judge dies in middle of murder trial
March 14, 2013
Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard died Sunday in the midst of presiding over a three-defendant murder trial. [Santa Maria Times]
Bullard died at the age of 59 of complications from emergency heart surgery he had last week.
Following Bullard’s death, two of the three defense attorneys in the Lompoc murder trial motioned for a mistrial. But, Bullard’s replacement, retired Judge Rick Brown, denied the motion.
“There’s not case-law that I know of that says when a judge dies in the middle of a trial automatically there’s a mistrial,” Brown said.
All three defense attorneys additionally filed declarations of prejudice against Brown and requested that he step down from the case assignment.
Brown refused to leave his role as replacement judge and said the law permits him to stay.
“Yes, it’s going to be different,” Brown said. “It’s going to be perhaps a little unusual, but I think it will be legal. I think it will be fair.”
Prosecutor Stephen Foley said he was “absolutely” ready to proceed with the remainder of the trial.
Brown pledged to review trial transcripts.
Three Lompoc residents, Gregory Wallace, Christopher Jaime and Roberto Castaneda, stand trial for the January 2010 fatal shooting of Lompoc resident Isidro Madera.
The trial resumed Tuesday after a moment of silence for Bullard.