Nurse, neighbors testify in Marilyn Pharis murder trial

Posted at 6:15 PM, May 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 21:15:48-04

Witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial for the rape and murder of a Santa Maria woman.

Last week, opening statements were heard for Victor Martinez and Jose Villagomez, the two men charged with first-degree murder, accused of breaking into 64-year-old Marilyn Pharis’ home in 2015, raping and beating her. Prosecutors say the attack eventually led to her death.

Seven people took the witness stand Tuesday. Some were police officers and neighbors in the neighborhood the day Marilyn Pharis was attacked.

In court on Tuesday, defendants Victor Martinez and Jose Villagomez were alert and with their attorney.

First, registered nurse Rhonda Simpson testified she was treating Pharis at Marian Regional Medical Center. Simpson said Pharis told her what happened during the attack, that a man – allegedly Martinez – was on top of her, strangling her and she was fighting back. The nurse told the court that Pharis had a coating of human tissue on her teeth from when she bit her attacker.

Simpson became emotional, at one point shouting in court that she knew Pharis had been raped, however it was stricken from the record and jurors were told to forget that. Simpson also stated that Pharis never told her of a sexual assault.

Defense attorney Michael Scott handed Simpson a medical chart with hundreds of pages. Scott read aloud part of the medical chart that summarized that Pharis was given pain medication four hours after a doctor had written the prescription. Simpson testified Pharis said her pain level was ‘only a 2’ at the time, asking her a few hours later again before giving her the pain medication.

Simpson said Pharis never complained of pain in her legs and was able to walk to the bathroom twice, which was approximately 40 feet in distance. Simpson later said she transferred hospitals, saying she developed an emotional connection with Pharis and was personally affected.

Next on the stand was a neighbor, Loida Hernandez. She explained that a man – allegedly Martinez – ran into her home to hide after leaving Pharis’ house. Hernandez was crying uncontrollably in court, describing how her kids were in the home. She was trying to defend herself, screaming, “Get out of my house!” She stated Martinez eventually left through the backyard.

Two other neighbors took the stand to describe how they saw a man – allegedly Martinez – run out of the home’s front yard and hide in a car.

Finally, three Santa Maria Police officers explained how they found and captured Martinez hiding just blocks away in a wood and concrete pile.

Martinez’s family was in court again Tuesday. Court resumes for a full day on Wednesday.