Santa Barbara murder trial goes to jury

SANTA BARBARA — More than two years after a Westside Santa Barbara gang fight left 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure lying dead on the street, testimony in the retrial of his accused killers has ended and the outcome is now in the hands of 12 jurors.

Ruben Mize, Bryan Medinilla, Raul Diaz and Ricardo Nava, suspects in the July 2007 assault and murder, each originally faced charges of murder and attempted murder with gang enhancements in a 2009 trial which resulted in a hung jury and declaration of mistrial by Superior Court Judge Brian Hill.  The current trial began Jan. 31, and has featured prosecution testimony from no less than five former Eastside gang members, one of whom is the brother of defendant Mize.

Ruben Mize

Assistant District Attorney Hans Almgren suggested that the defendants “had a plan and they executed it” in carrying out the fatal attack.

In his closing statement before the jury, and as he later reiterated to the media, Almgren declared, “They were going hunting for human beings, and that’s premeditation.”

Each of the five prosecution witnesses faces pending criminal charges in separate cases, which led defense attorney Joe Allen to argue that — because the testifying witnesses are likely to receive reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony — they were in effect “being paid for their testimony” and “shading their story in a way they think the prosecution wants to hear.”

Among those five giving testimony on behalf of the prosecution, the brother of the stabbing victim previously admitted to the court that he had lied during the earlier trial.

Among the evidence given to the jury for consideration is the recorded confession of Ruben Mize, along with rap lyrics written by him describing the anticipation of “the day I take someone’s life.”

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