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March 25, 2023

Courts: Judge dismisses homicide charges against five men in Barajas murder

A judge dropped homicide charges against five men accused in the May 28 murder of Victor Barajas, age 23 at the time of his death.

Judge Steven Sanders at a January preliminary examination hearing dismissed the cases against Nikko Espinoza, 25, Jose Estrada, 20, Alfonso Contreras, 23, Luis Dominguez-Mojica, 22, and Luis Garcia Mendez, 22, according to court records. All five had been incarcerated at the San Benito County Jail and were being held on a $1 million bail. Public defender Gregory LaForge had been representing one of the suspects and said the judge dropped the charges due to a lack of evidence.

On May 28, at about 6:45 p.m., Hollister police officers responded to a report of a shooting. According to police:

On-scene officers found an adult male victim at the intersection of Prune Street and Park Street. The victim was found non-responsive. CPR was initiated and the victim was transported by ambulance to Hazel Hawkins Hospital. Despite life saving efforts, the victim was later declared deceased at the hospital.