H-SANTA MARIA

Apr 12, 2013 8:54 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Ibarra murder case may stretch Santa Barbara County resources

Santa Barbara County Superior Court officials say the Anthony Ibarra murder trial may be one of the county's largest in recent years.

Ten people have been charged in connection with Ibarra's death.

Ibarra's body was found in the back of a U-Haul truck parked on an Orcutt Street on March 19th.

Police believe Ibarra was killed two days before in Santa Maria and said he was tortured for hours before being stabbed to death.

The ten defendants will all appear together as their case proceeds through the legal system.

"We attribute the homicide to a combination of gang activity, drug activity, and territorial activity," said Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin at a press conference in March.

An investigation that started with three people believed to be involved quickly grew to ten and investigators say it is a drug and gang-related crime.

"There's always a drug war going on. It's really never ending," said Chief Martin.

And now the next big challenge is in the courtroom.

"A ten defendant murder case is a tremendous commitment," said Santa Barbara County Prosecutor Steve Foley.

Prosecutor Foley says he's worked on cases with multiple defendants before, but never a majority of them charged with the same murder case.

"It will need commitment from the district attorney's officer, commitment from the courts and just getting ten defendants up in a single courtroom with ten defense attorneys plus the prosecutor plus all the court staff," said Foley.

Other court officials say county resources may be stretched.

Darrell Parker with the Santa Barbara County Superior Courts says in his 15 year career there's never been ten defendants in the court room together and says a trial with this magnitude may have to be moved to a separate location.

Prosecutor Foley says the county will be ready to use all of its resources.

"With ten defendants charged with murder in one case, that is the most I've seen in my career and if it's not the most ever in Santa Barbara County it will definitely be high on the list," said Foley.

Parker says there will be heightened security in the courtroom, and because of the number of people charged in the case, the trial may have be moved to a meeting hall or conference center.

The ten defendants are due back in court on April 18th.

Eight are charged with murder and two are charged with accessories after the fact.

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