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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Murder suspect Barajas has trial setting delayed for motion hearing

Murder suspect Jose A. Barajas had a motion hearing and trial setting vacated this week.

Parties were scheduled to hold a motion hearing today but it has been moved to Sept. 19. That decision also puts off a scheduled trial setting that had been set for Sept. 12.

The motion hearing is set for Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. before Judge Steven Sanders, according to court records. The September hearing is for a ruling on a 995 hearing, which is an appeal of a judge’s prior decision on a preliminary hearing. In the case of Barajas, a judge previously ruled at a preliminary examination that there’s enough evidence for trial.

Barajas is accused of murdering 18-year-old Ariana Zendejas in 2014. Barajas was detained in the summer of 2018 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 along with special allegations that could enhance any possible penalties.

If convicted of murder, Barajas could face up to life in prison. He has remained at the San Benito County Jail during the court proceedings.

Barajas fled Hollister that night in 2014 and remained a fugitive until July 12, 2018. Barajas had been implicated in the shooting death of the 18-year-old Hollister resident on Aug. 1, 2014.

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. Hollister police booked him into the San Benito County Jail after Barajas was transported from Mexico.