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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Sides to schedule jury trial for Barajas in murder case

A judge and attorneys may soon be ready to schedule a jury trial for Jose A. Barajas, accused of murdering Ariana Zendejas in 2014 before fleeing to Mexico.

The parties are scheduled to hold a trial setting, with a goal of setting dates for the proceedings, at 9 a.m. May 23 in courtroom 3 before Judge Steven Sanders, according to court records. A judge last month ruled there is enough evidence for a 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.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, 2018.