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Orcutt murder trial continues with more witness testimony

Posted at 3:32 PM, Oct 25, 2018

Jonathan Highley’s murder trial continued in a Santa Maria courtroom on Thursday.

Highley is charged with murder and special firearms allegations for the March 2017 shooting death of Tony San Juan, 43, outside Elmer’s bar in Orcutt.

During opening statements on Tuesday, prosecutor Anne Nudson described the scene outside the bar the night San Juan was killed. She said Highley fought with several people at the bar that night, and after he was escorted out, tried to come back and got into another fight outside the bar. When that fight was over, Nudson said Highley went back to his nearby apartment and returned with a gun. While she said San Juan never fought with Highley, he was shot in the head while he and others tried to run away.

The defense did not present an opening statement, so the prosecution began calling witnesses.

Wednesday was a day off for the case.

In court on Thursday, a woman who took the stand on Tuesday continued her testimony. She said she followed Highley back to his apartment after the shooting and that he pointed the gun at her, saying, “You’re lucky.”

The prosecution called another witness who said he got into a fight with Highley that night. He said Highley punched him in the face, then punched his friend, and the bar cleared out. Later, outside the bar, the witness said he saw Highley in a fight with another man. He said he saw Highley fall to the ground, then get up and go to his apartment. When Highley returned, the witness said he saw the shadow of a gun in Highley’s hand, so he ran from the scene.

Highley and his wife, Mayra Perez, were arrested hours after San Juan was killed.

Perez pleaded no contest to being an accessory to murder after the fact and aiding and abetting and was sentencing last August to a year in jail, with credit for time served.

Jonathan Highley appears in court for his murder trial on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. (KSBY photo)


Previous coverage:
Jury selection begins in trial for man charged with murder of Santa Maria man
Witnesses in Orcutt murder trial describe scene of shooting outside popular bar