SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The so-called "U-Haul murder trial" is expected to be another high security, gang-related trial that requires extra time and money to make it work at the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall courtroom which is seen as the most practical venue.
"The Juvenile Hall Court was selected for the trial due to the convenience of logistics for the security and the sheer footprint of the building", says Santa Barbara County Superior Courts Administrator Darrel Parker, "its large enough to accommodate the seven defendants, their attorneys and the prosecution."
The trial of the seven remaining defendants in the alleged kidnapping, torture and murder of Anthony Ibarra in March of 2013 is expected to last at least three months and will impact the daily operations of the County Juvenile Hall court system.
"It is going to compress the juvenile matters into the afternoon so there will be some changes", Parker says, "currently the trial is set to begin on November 17th, and we're going to hold the trial from 8 in the morning to until 2pm, that will compress the Juvenile calendar into the afternoon, those cases that can't be accommodated in the afternoon after the 2:30 session will be relocated to Santa Maria Court, that's a fluid process, we'll have to determine available courtrooms on a day to day basis."
Some modifications are needed inside the Juvenile Hall Court to accommodate the Ibarra trial including the construction of a jury box.
"Architects have been in, taking a look at the facility", Parker says, "they believe they can construct a jury box that complies with all facility requirements to accommodate this trial."
"When we constructed the Juvenile Court in 2005 we anticipated that someday there would be a need for jury trials in juvenile matters", Parker says, "little did we know at that time that we would be faced with the difficulties of accommodating this trial, but it turns out to work in our favor."
"These are normal costs that the criminal justice system bears, its a little larger for us, so the modification for the jury box will create an additional cost", Parker says, "I expect it to be under $15,000 and frankly when its done we will be able to use it again in the future."
Because everything having to do with Juvenile Hall court is subject to strict confidentiality, moving Juvenile Hall court proceedings to Santa Maria court has its challenges.
"If we need to relocate any of the juvenile matters because they are displaced by the trial in the Juvenile Hall Court, we'll have to ensure confidentiality in the downtown facilities, that's the 312 East Cook Street campus", Parker says, "that will be a bit of a challenge because normally most of those proceedings downtown are public hearings, but its not unusual to have some matters that are confidential (at the Santa Maria Court complex)."
The seven remaining defendants charged with murder in the case are Ramon Maldonado, Reyes Gonzales, Jr., Santos Manuel Sauceda, David Murillo Maldonado, Jr., Anthony Solis, Ramon Maldonado, Jr. and Jason Castillo.
They have been in Santa Barbara County Jail custody since their arrest last year.
Four other defendants have accepted plea agreements for accessory to murder and are serving prison sentences.
The prosecution says Anthony Ibarra was kidnapped, tortured and stabbed to death on March 17, 2013, at a home on West Donovan Road in Santa Maria.
His body was found two days later in the back of a U-Haul truck parked in an Orcutt neighborhood.
The prosecution says the motive for the gang-related killing was unpaid drug debts.