The crucial preliminary examination has been moved to April for murder suspect Jose Barajas.
Attorneys agreed to hold the preliminary examination at 8:30 a.m. April 15 for Barajas, 24, accused in the 2014 murder of 18-year-old Ariana Zendejas.
The scheduling of a preliminary hearing has been put off on several occasions in recent months. Attorneys in January had finally decided on Feb. 11 for the hearing, but it was scratched Feb. 6 at a pre-preliminary hearing. Attorneys then agreed to reschedule for April, with a pre-preliminary hearing set for 9 a.m. April 4 before Judge Steven Sanders.
Barajas’ attorney Greg LaForge previously told San Benito Live attorneys wanted to make sure they ensured witness availability for the preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, a judge decides if there’s enough evidence for a jury trial.
Barajas was detained this past summer 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. 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.
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.