U-Haul murder trial trudges on in Santa Maria

January 27, 2015
Ramon "Crazy Ray" Maldonado

Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado

A multi-month murder trial in Santa Maria has moved into its third week of testimony as prosecutors continue to make their case that six gang members murdered and tortured a 28-year-old man in retribution for a drug debt.

Six defendants are currently standing trial for the March 2013 killing of Anthony Ibarra and face a host of charges including first-degree murder. Several gang members allegedly killed Ibarra at a Santa Maria home and dumped his naked body in a U-haul truck because he did not pay a drug tax owed to their gang and he stole drugs from the gang to sell on his own.

A court will separately try a 16-year-old defendant in the case. The 16-year-old, Ramon Maldonado, Jr., is the son of Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado, the alleged ringleader in the murder, and the grandson of David Maldonado, another defendant.

Four other defendants have already agreed to plea deals.

Fear of retaliation from Santa Maria gangs has reduced some public participation in the trial. More than 1,000 Santa Barbara County residents summoned for jury duty specifically for the murder trial did not appear in court when called upon.

Due to public fears, the court has chosen to omit the names of jurors from trial records. A judge also issued an order to media not to publish images of witnesses.

Key witnesses who have already testified include Angel Escobar and his sister, Marissa Escobar. Testimony has indicated that Marissa Escobar coaxed Ibarra, on behalf of Crazy Ray Maldonado, into coming to the Santa Maria home where the murder occurred.

Angel Escobar testified that he was inside the house while the defendants killed Ibarra. He said that he could hear Ibarra crying while a mob beat him.

Another witness testified that she could hear the murder from her neighboring home. Under cross-examination, though, she admitted to being high on methamphetamine before, during and after the killing.

Defense attorney also pointed to the fact that the Escobars, too, are admitted methamphetamine users.

The trial is expected to last through February. It is taking place at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, where testimony begins at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday.


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6 Comments

  1. guest says:

    When is the ghettoization gunna stop? I don’t want the central coast to become another East Los Angeles or Tijuana.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. Ted Slanders says:

    Can anyone spell “PROFESSIONAL JURORS?”

    As if the financial hardships to jurors isn’t enough at times, add to it the fear of retaliation as is shown in this story, then it’s time for a real jury of your peers, aka, Professional Jurors!

    These professionals would be educated in the specific law at hand, therefore no need for them to enter the deliberation room subsequent to the trail with the look of a deer in the headlights. God forbid if a jury would be comprised of talented doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, criminologists and other scientists whose job is to make judgments about their respective fields. Additionally, these professionals would be paid a professional rate because you do get what you pay for 99.99 percent of the time.

    Case in point, after viewing the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial, how would you have liked that group of people determining whether you were to live or die? Subjectively, case closed.

    (-5) 13 Total Votes - 4 up - 9 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      That is a thought provoking argument but I don’t think that one would have to go that far. If the pay for jury duty was comparable to the income lost for those serving, I think a lot more competent people would be willing to serve.

      In cases involving a real possibility of retaliation, in addition to the measures taken in this case, perhaps the jury could be placed behind a simple screen to keep the accused and his/her friends and relatives from easily identifying them. Stronger measures could be used if the judge decided that retaliation was more likely.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  3. achillesheal says:

    Any relation to Abel “crazy Abel” Maldonado?

    (-5) 5 Total Votes - 0 up - 5 down

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