Prosecutors on Monday released additional details in the murders of Santa Barbara college students Enzo Marino Rastelli and Jasper Pieter van der Meulen last month in Noleta. Rastelli and van der Meulen were reportedly trying to sell a half pound of marijuana to Westside gang members when they were killed.
According to newly filed charging documents, an unnamed 15-year-old juvenile acted alongside 21-year-old Bryan Munoz when Munoz allegedly shot the pair during what officials called a “robbery rip-off.” Like Munoz, the juvenile has been charged with two counts of murder, but they are being prosecuted in juvenile court and their identify is being withheld.
Munoz, officials said, is eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole. A third suspect, 24-year-old Joshua Isaac Vega, has been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and is facing five years in prison.
On January 5, two days before the shooting, Munoz received a text message from van der Meulen that said the price for their half-pound of cannabis would be $1,000. On January 7, they agreed to meet on Burtis Street in a quiet residential neighborhood just outside the Goleta city limits.
That morning, Munoz and the juvenile collected a wad of fake cash from Vega and obtained a 9mm handgun from a different unidentified source, officials said. The shooting was committed, they alleged, “for the benefit of, or at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Hans Almgren is prosecuting the case. Munoz is scheduled to be arraigned February 16. Vega will enter his plea April 5. No date was given for the next hearing in the juvenile’s case.
The Sheriff’s Office also said Thursday it had impounded the car the suspects used during the murders. The 2015 black Nissan Altima was found in the Ventura area on February 5.
“Detectives are interested in hearing from anyone who may have seen the suspects and the vehicle on the night of and days following the murder,” said Sheriff’s spokesperson Raquel Zick. “Detectives would also like to encourage anyone who has been similarly robbed to contact Sheriff’s Detectives at (805) 681-4150, or anyone can leave an anonymous tip by calling (805) 681-4171 or online at SBSheriff.org.“
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