Suspected Zendejas killer to return to court

Barajas charges headed to jury trial

The suspect who allegedly shot and killed 19-year-old Ariana Zendejas in 2014 and hid out in Mexico the next four years will not face a jury trial until after June 13.

Jose Antonio Barajas appeared briefly for a hearing at San Benito County Courthouse May 23. Judge Steven R. Sanders delayed the hearing, which was scheduled as a trial setting session, to June 13.

Barajas is charged with murder and other felonies in relation to the shooting death of Zendejas on Aug. 1, 2014. Barajas was a passenger in a vehicle chasing another car that was filled with four occupants, including the male driver with whom Barajas had previously been feuding. Zendejas was a passenger in the back seat of the vehicle that Barajas was chasing.

Jose Antonio Barajas

Barajas opened fire with a handgun on the victims’ vehicle near B and West streets, hitting Zendejas with at least one of the bullets, according to police. The driver of the victims’ vehicle drove Zendejas to Hazel Hawkins Hospital, where police responded shortly after the shooting. Zendejas was pronounced dead later that evening.

Barajas fled the area with the two occupants of the vehicle he was traveling in, and later left the country, according to police. He 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.

Barajas is also charged with three counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. The charges were filed after an April 15 preliminary hearing, in which four Hollister Police officers testified about their investigation into the 2014 shooting.

The charges against Barajas also include “special allegations” for his use of a firearm in the crime, according to court documents. If convicted, Barajas faces life in prison.

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