Barajas attorney declares conflict in murder case

Suspect will next appear in court Jan. 23

The trial of the alleged killer of 19-year-old Ariana Zendejas may become delayed again, as the suspect’s public defender disclosed a conflict of interest in the case at a January hearing, according to court files.

At a Jan. 9 hearing for suspect Jose Antonio Barajas, his previous attorney Gregory LaForge told the judge that he has a conflict in the case. As a result, LaForge can no longer represent Barajas, who will be assigned a new attorney before his next hearing.

The Jan. 9 hearing was scheduled as a “trial confirmation.” Barajas’ trial is scheduled to proceed Jan. 27 at San Benito County Courthouse. He was also scheduled to appear in court Jan. 23 for trial confirmation.

Barajas is charged with six counts in relation to the 2014 shooting death of Zendejas in Hollister. Specifically, he is charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and shooting at an unoccupied motor vehicle.

Zendejas was shot and killed during a confrontation on public streets between Barajas and another man, according to authorities. Barajas was a passenger in a vehicle chasing another car that had 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.

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 in which he was riding at the time of the shooting, 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 extradited from Mexico and flown to San Jose, where he was transferred to the San Benito County Jail.

Barajas remains in local custody without bail.

Larios to undergo psych evaluation

The preliminary hearing for murder suspect Christopher Larios was postponed again last week, this time to allow the suspect to undergo a psychological evaluation before the case reaches the trial stage.

According to a Jan. 9 order from Superior Court Judge Steven Sanders, the court has appointed Dr. Lyn J. Mangiameli “for the purpose of conducting a psychological evaluation of the defendant in order to assist the court in determining the defendant’s present mental competence, and file a written report with this court.”

Larios’ next hearing in the 2014 murder case is scheduled for Jan. 22 at San Benito County Courthouse. The doctor’s report is expected to be presented at that hearing.

Larios, 32, is charged with murder in relation to the Dec. 23, 2014 death of Raul De La Rosa at a residence on the 2000 block of Scenic Circle in southeast Hollister. Larios allegedly killed De La Rosa by shooting him with a handgun, but authorities haven’t released further details about the incident.

The suspect was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 8 and 10, but those proceedings were postponed. The preliminary hearing is generally where a judge determines if prosecutors have enough evidence to bring the suspect to trial.

Police arrested Larios when he entered the Hollister police station April 21 and told officers he wanted to make a statement about the 2014 murder. Based on that interview, officers arrested Larios on suspicion of killing De La Rosa.

He remains in the county jail in lieu of $1.05 million bail.

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