A judge once again continued a hearing for murder suspect Jose Barajas to choose a date for the crucial preliminary hearing part of the court process.
Barajas is now set for his preliminary setting at 9 a.m. Sept. 27 at the San Benito County Courthouse after the hearing was continued Thursday morning, confirmed public defender Greg LaForge.
The 24-year-old is the suspect in the 2014 murder of Ariana Zendejas, who was 18 at the time. At a preliminary setting, the judge will schedule the preliminary hearing, which is a standard stage of the court process where it’s decided if there’s enough evidence to move forward on a jury trial. Barajas previously had a preliminary setting set for Aug. 16 as well.
Barajas 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. Barajas has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges July 16 along with special allegations that could enhance any possible penalties.
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