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April 18, 2024

Court process moves forward for captured murder suspect

The suspect in the 2014 murder of Ariana Zendejas who was recently captured in Mexico had his court proceedings move forward Thursday morning.

A judge Thursday morning scheduled a preliminary setting for Jose Barajas, 24, the suspect in the shooting death of Zendejas, who was 18 at the time, according to court records. At a preliminary setting, the judge will schedule the preliminary hearing, which is a crucial stage of the court process where it’s decided if there’s enough evidence to move forward on a jury trial.

Barajas has pleaded not guilty.

The preliminary setting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 16. It is a standard step in the court process before the preliminary hearing.

was recently detained by authorities in Mexico and has been charged by local prosecutors with murder, two counts of kidnapping, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, and three counts of assault with a firearm, according to court records.

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges July 16 along with special allegations that could enhance any possible penalties.

According to court records, Barajas, 24, had his arraignment continued Thursday and rescheduled for July 26 at 9 a.m. before Judge Steven Sanders. The judge Thursday appointed a public defender to the case.

If convicted of murder, Barajas could face up to life in prison.

Barajas had been implicated in the shooting death of the 18 year-old Hollister resident on Aug. 1, 2014. Barajas fled Hollister that night and remained a fugitive until July 12 of this year. Hollister police booked Barajas, 24, into the San Benito County Jail last Friday after Barajas was transported from Guadalajara, Mexico.

In 2017, Hollister police detectives learned specific and actionable information regarding the whereabouts of Barajas in Mexico, which they passed to the FBI. In January of 2018, HPD detectives and FBI agents confirmed that information through multiple local sources and sources abroad. That information led the FBI and Mexican law enforcement to a specific house in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to police.

-Story by Kollin Kosmicki