Three Santa Barbara County men pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder charges stemming from an alleged assault against a homeless man in Granny's Field last September. According to the Sheriff's Office, the man never regained consciousness from his injuries and was removed from life support after weeks of treatment.
Carlos Medina, 44, Jonathan Andrade, 20, and Roman Romero, 18, were arrested in November — they were each booked into Santa Barbara County Jail at $1 million bail, and remain in custody — after an investigation by the Sheriff's Office linked them to the reported assault of Richard Boden, a 51-year-old transient known to visit Granny's Field behind the Turnpike Shopping Center. Boden was taken to the hospital after being found unconscious in the field on September 16 but was taken off life support at this family's request on October 14. Boden's autopsy stated that he died as a result of complications from the injuries he suffered during the assault, the Sheriff's Office said.
Authorities arrested the three men on November 10 after an investigation that initially didn't pinpoint any suspects. Officers arrested Medina in Pasadena, where he was living in a court-ordered residential treatment facility. Deedrea Edgar, Medina's attorney, said that Medina “voluntarily and willingly” entered the facility per his felony probation for second-degree commercial burglary; the murder charge, Edgar said, has created a probation violation. (Medina also pleaded not guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of resisting, obstructing, or delaying arrest on September 19, 2013.)
“We don't take the position that Mr. Medina committed murder,” Edgar said. “We will work at getting a resolution that is reasonable.” Edgar continued, saying that his not-guilty plea “is not to negate any responsibility to any involvement that Mr. Medina may have had.” She added that she and her client are saddened by Boden's death, calling it “a tragic situation.”
Romero was arrested at his Santa Barbara home. The Sheriff's Office reported that Romero's November 10 arrest — which occurred without incident — was aided by the department's Special Enforcement Team, as there were “officer safety concerns at that location.”
Andrade was also arrested on November 10. According to Deputy District Attorney Anthony Davis, who is handling the prosecution, Andrade is also facing a violation regarding a diversion program he was in for a previous methamphetamine possession, a probation violation for a previous misdemeanor trespassing charge, and two new counts of felony second-degree burglary. Andrade's attorney, Sam Eaton, didn't return requests for comment.
Davis said that the three men could face 15 years to life in prison if found guilty of the charges. They will be back in court on February 4.