The Olive Street Murder case resumed on Monday, January 4, continuing examination of the death of 23-year-old gang member Kelly Hunt in February 2013.
Witnesses David Ybarra and Javier Lopez, half-brother of defendant Isaac Jimenez, were brought to the stand last Monday. Both witnesses had several interactions with defendants Jimenez and Joseph Castro prior to Hunt’s murder on February 19, 2013 and were asked questions regarding their relationships with Santa Barbara gangs.
Castro’s defense attorney Michael Hanley began questioning by presenting various images from Lopez’s Facebook and asking Lopez about the time and nature of the pictures. Included in the evidence were several “selfies” of a gun-toting Lopez. Lopez claimed he did not remember most of the pictures due to the effects of “time and pills,” but he was able to describe the guns pictured, although saying he never purchased a gun himself. Lopez said Jimenez had, however, purchased a gun before and would often “show off” his guns. Multiple times during questioning, Lopez said the influence of Xanax and marijuana had fogged up his memory and caused him to be “loopy” in 2013.
Lopez had known Hunt ten years prior to his death and considered himself a “backer” of the Ventura Midtown Gang, which Hunt was affiliated with. Lopez had a self-tattooed Midtown gang symbol on his ankle, but claimed it was a drunken undertaking that did not imply gang membership. According to Lopez, Hunt was “a little more wild toward the end” because of his drug use, primarily methamphetamine. He also described Hunt as losing muscle mass in the later years of his life and said Hunt may have begun using heroin during this time.
Lopez said Hunt wanted his smaller, Midtown-affiliated Crazy Winos gang to be a “big gang eventually,” and said Hunt was interested in receiving backing from the Santa Barbara Sureños. According to Lopez, Hunt once said Jimenez was interested in expansion as well. In a sidebar conference, Lopez claimed an “older homie said Kelly was fucking up big time,” pointing to potential murder motive for a separate Southern California gang.
Prosecutor Kim Siegel then called to the stand Ybarra, fellow Santa Barbara Eastside Krazies gang member of Jimenez and Castro. Ybarra was questioned about the various money-making tactics of the Eastside Krazies. According to Ybarra, the gang was primarily involved in drug dealing, gun selling and reselling, and theft and reselling. Eastside Krazies member Ray “Boxer” Macias was said by Ybarra to have collected taxes from drug dealing in the neighborhood.
Ybarra’s questioning continued on Friday, with Jimenez’s defense attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, asking Ybarra whether murder would be the basis for someone to be allowed into a gang. Ybarra answered several lines of questioning as to the policies of gangs and said, “if you murder someone, your status goes up.”
Michael Ullemeyer, Santa Barbara County Police Department Senior Forensic Technician, then came to the stand and spoke about his investigation on the day of the murder. Ullemeyer photographed the scene and collected evidence from Hunt’s body after February 19, as well as downloaded information from Hunt’s phone. In Hunt’s left back pocket, Ullemeyer found a neatly folded blue bandana and an iPhone 5 with a missing SIM card.
Following Ullemeyer’s testimony, Detective Brian Larson, who was the primary investigator in the murder, said the case evidence involved “close to a million” text and phone call records from mobile network providers. Larson was able to provide Facebook conversation records seized during the investigation and reviewed message logs that pointed to Castro’s gang status during the time of the murder.
Larson read an exchange between Castro and a female friend on the day before the murder, in which Castro said, “I live on the [westside] but I’m from the [eastside] so I gotta fight by myself all the time.” Larson read additional banter between Castro and his friend, including the woman saying, “I don’t wanna see a cute thug get shot.” Castro ended the conversation saying he was beginning work on Wednesday and wasn’t as interested in gang member activities anymore.
According to Larson, Jimenez and Castro often used mobile messaging applications Pinger and Gogii, which allow messaging without wireless provider companies. Larson said Jimenez changed phones toward the date of the homicide and read out loud a conversation between Jimenez and Castro the day prior to Hunt’s murder.
During the conversation, Jimenez and Castro discussed a potential drug deal. Jimenez said he wanted to make “mullah” and inquired as to “how much a good 6 would be.” Castro said he would find out details and the two ended the conversation agreeing to meet each other the next day.
Larson also read Jimenez’s Gogii exchange with a friend, in which Jimenez said he would drive to Ventura on the morning of February 19 to get his friend “out of this shit town.” Jimenez allegedly drove Hunt from Ventura to Santa Barbara the next day.
Larson went through several other phone records and showed phone calls to and from the defendants on the day of the murder, including a call from Boxer to Castro and a call between Lopez and his mother.