Deadlocked jury leads to mistrial in Santa Barbara murder case

Ruben Mize

SANTA BARBARA — Following a month-long first-degree murder trial featuring multiple defendants, a deadlocked jury forced Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Brian Hill to declare a mistrial last week.

The case involved charges of attempted murder, street terrorism, and first-degree murder relating to the 2007 fatal stabbing of Lorenzo Carachure, who was 16 years old at the time of his death. Defendants Ruben Mize, Bryan Mendinilla, Ricardo Nava and Raul Diaz are all reputed members of Santa Barbara’s Eastside Gang.

Defense attorney James Crowder, representing Medinilla, responded to the July 7 mistrial declaration by asserting the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office had “overcharged” his client.

When contacted via telephone for further comment, Crowder added: “From the evidence, there was not enough to justify the first-degree charge, and that’s what split the jury.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, who oversees the prosecution of gang-related offenses, disagreed, making it clear that his office fully intends to pursue convictions before another jury.
“We take gang crime very seriously,” he said after the mistrial declaration.

Deputy District Attorney Hans Almgren, who prosecuted the case, was unavailable for comment.

New trial dates, along with issues of reduced charges, will be addressed by prosecution and defense in August.


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