Five weeks after they heard opening statements in the murder trial of brothers Ismael and Miguel Parra and Michael Cardenas, 12 jurors will begin deliberating whether they believe the three killed George Ied as he walked home from work in October 2010 and whether that killing was murder.
Prosecutor Hans Almgren told the jury the evidence pointed toward murder. He noted both Steven Santana (who was involved in the beating but took a plea deal in exchange for his testimony) and Ismael Parra (who took the stand in his own defense) said Cardenas was the most violent. Blood inside the Parras’ home pointed to their guilt, and a bloody palm print found on a vehicle near Ied’s body was similar to that of Cardenas. Almgren asked the jury if it was probable that when four grown men in their twenties are stomping someone and beating him, that it would be first- or second-degree murder. “Absolutely,” he said. He explained to them that Ied dying was a natural and probable consequence of their actions. “Why would you keep hitting someone who’s unconscious unless you want to kill them?” Almgren asked.
Defense attorneys are pushing for involuntary manslaughter. Sam Eaton (representing Miguel Parra) and Adam Pearlman (representing Cardenas) were to give their closing arguments Wednesday, after The Santa Barbara Independent’s deadline. During opening statements and throughout his witness questioning, Eaton has tried to distance his client from the beating, pointing to statements that his client was actually working as a peacemaker who tried to keep his brother out of trouble. Pearlman has focused on the testimony of Ismael Parra and Santana, calling them liars and telling jurors whatever they say cannot be trusted. Indeed, on the stand, both admitted to lying to officers several times in interviews following the beating, but both insisted they were telling the truth on the stand. Michael Hanley, attorney for Ismael Parra, told the jury his client was trying to end the altercation, not join it. “Is he guilty of bad judgment? You bet,” he said. “Murder? No way.”