District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Wednesday that she has filed felony charges against two teens accused of murdering 15-year-old Marcos Arce Ramos, of Santa Maria, in a gang-related act of violence on the 1600 block of the city’s East Donovan Road near Suey Road on Monday.
Israel Gaspar Cruz, 19, and Carlos Geovani Perez, 14, were scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Santa Maria’s Department 9 by Judge Kelly, but their arraignment was continued to February 2 at 8:30 a.m. in the same department. On Wednesday, Cruz was appointed a public defender and Perez was appointed the county’s Conflict Defense Team, tasked with representing clients whom the Public Defender’s Office has a conflict with.
Cruz and Gaspar are both charged with one count of murder, allegedly on behalf of a criminal street gang, as stated in the DA’s Office press release. Additionally, Cruz is charged with use of a deadly weapon. Due to Perez’s age, the DA is pushing to charge him as an adult rather than a juvenile.
The two defendants were arrested Monday in Santa Maria after “two groups of people were involved in a confrontation” near the intersection of E. Donovan Road and Suey Road that resulted in Ramos’s death, according to a press release from the Santa Maria Police Department. “During the confrontation, one male [Ramos] was injured and later died from his wounds,” said the press release.
Cruz and Gaspar, reportedly discovered in the area “hiding in [a] riverbed” of the Santa Maria River within one to two hours after the attack, were initially detained in connection with the incident. “The continuing investigation has led to charges for both males,” read the police’s release.