Accused Murderer Competent to Stand Trial?
Three Other Defendants Enter Pleas Related to 2009 Homicide
Andrew Baldarez, accused in the 2009 Westside murder of 22-year-old Baldemar Leal, will go through a competency trial in December.
In April, Judge Frank Ochoa ordered a third doctor examine Baldarez to see if he understood the charges against him — murder and conspiracy to commit murder — and the court proceedings in which he was participating. The matter is still in dispute, and thus, headed for trial. The five-to-seven day trial is set for December 3. Authorities have said that Baldarez admitted to stabbing Leal several times.
Monday morning, three other defendants all entered pleas related to the case. Jonathon Alonzo, Imelda Guevara, and David Martinez all pleaded no contest to assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, and conspiracy to commit that crime. They each admitted to a gang enhancement as well. Guevara, who was also found in violation of probation from a prior case, will receive 11 years in state prison, while the two men will each receive nine years each in prison. All three have been in custody since their February 2009 arrests. Each of the defendants had faced murder and conspiracy charges with gang enhancements.
Leal was found just before 7 a.m., unresponsive on the ground in the 400 block of De La Vina Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and had multiple stab wounds to his upper body. A witness reported seeing subjects assaulting a man the previous night around 9:30 p.m., and said he saw the victim eventually run north on De La Vina, while the subjects ran south and got into a vehicle.
Leal had lived in Santa Barbara for nine years, but had only moved to the block two days prior to being killed.
At a preliminary hearing in late 2009, Ochoa decided that there was not enough evidence to hold one defendant, Liliana Arrayga, to the charges. Michelle Flores-Murillo pleaded and was sentenced months ago. Alonzo, Martinez, and Guevara will all be sentenced next month.