Man pleads not guilty to teen’s murder

Jose Barajas returns to court May 23

A Hollister man accused of killing 19-year-old Ariana Zendejas pleaded not guilty to the charges against him at a May 2 arraignment hearing at the San Benito County Courthouse, according to authorities.

Jose Antonio Barajas

Jose Antonio Barajas faces six felony charges in relation to the Aug. 1, 2014 shooting near B and West streets that ended in Zendejas’ death: one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle.

Barajas allegedly opened fire with a handgun after chasing the victims’ vehicle, which contained four people including Zendejas, according to police. One of the victims’ vehicle’s occupants was a man with whom Barajas had been recently quarreling.

The attempted murder and kidnapping charges are related to the occupants of the victims’ vehicle and the car in which Barajas was riding when the chase and shooting occurred, according to court files.

Barajas’ next hearing is scheduled for 9am May 23, to set a trial date and discuss the filing of any other motions, according to San Benito County Assistant District Attorney Ellen Campos.

Barajas fled to Mexico shortly after the shooting, allegedly forcing Vanessa Flores-Ibarra to go with him, according to police. Flores-Ibarra later left Barajas and surrendered to U.S. border patrol authorities in February 2015.

Barajas was arrested July 12, 2018, in Guadalajara, Mexico in relation to the Hollister shooting. He was deported from Mexico and flown to San Jose, where he was transferred to the San Benito County Jail. Barajas remains in local custody as he awaits trial.

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