Man was beaten before his throat was cut, Paso Robles police say

Search warrant from slaying is revealed in court papers; victim’s death reportedly was revenge for alleged sexual assaults

nwilson@thetribunenews.comMay 1, 2012 

Inside a hotel room in Paso Robles last summer, police found a dead man, lying face down on a bed, in a pool of blood. His throat was slashed, his chest and stomach were cut, and the left side of his face was crushed.

A conspiracy to beat the man and take his drugs apparently turned deadly when two members of a group returned after an assault on him and one of them allegedly sliced the man’s throat.

Four people suspected of the crime allegedly talked on the night of the attack about how the victim — 55-year-old Robert Kenichi Uyeno — had reportedly locked women up in his bedroom and raped them.

The Paso Robles Police Department cited the allegations in a search warrant filed in April in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Police sought permission from a judge to obtain “buccal swabs” of the inner cheeks of each suspect to determine if the DNA samples match physical evidence and clothing they believe was used in the crime.

Three people — 33-year-old Alfonso “Pancho” Fierros, 30-year-old Tabatha Brown, 29-year-old Jennifer Velten — have pleaded not guilty to murder.

John Wesley Barrett, 42, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and his case has been suspended, according to his attorney, Gael Mueller.

The warrant cites statements from female and male witnesses (who weren’t part of the criminal case) and two defendants, saying the four accused gathered at the Wine Country Inn in Paso Robles on the night of Aug. 21, where they consumed alcohol, heroin and methamphetamines.

They talked about how Uyeno had raped children and how wrong that was, the warrant states, though no specifics were noted about those claims. Uyeno doesn’t have a local criminal record of any sex crime.

A female witness told police that the suspects talked about how Uyeno had locked women in his bedroom, including Velten and Brown, and raped them, the warrant states.

A male witness also spoke with Brown, who said that Velten had complained that Uyeno hadn’t paid Velten for sex she performed, which led to their discussion about the claims of Uyeno’s history of sexual abuse.

The female witness told police the group became increasingly angry and she started to worry about what they’d do to Uyeno, urging them not to do anything because he was her friend.

The female witness eventually went back to her motel room because the group continued to speak badly of Uyeno, she told police.

Police described a conspiracy among the group that night to set up Uyeno and attack him.

The initial alleged plan was to beat up Uyeno and steal his drugs. Velten sent a text message to Uyeno saying she wanted to party with him in his room at the Farmhouse Motel in Paso Robles. Police later found a meth pipe and syringes at the scene.

The others then waited for a text by Velten from the room before Fierros and Barrett went to the motel while Brown waited in a truck. Inside the room, Barrett held Uyeno while Fierros pummeled him in the face and stomach with his fists for about two minutes, according to Barrett.

After the assault, Velten stole lotto tickets and methamphetamines, but Barrett told police he “did not steal anything because he did not like thieves,” according to the report, which paraphrases Barrett’s statements.

Barrett told police Uyeno’s pulse was strong and he was breathing when the group left to return to their motel. But Velten and Fierros returned to Uyeno’s motel room after Velten said she forgot her purse, Barrett told police.

When Velten and Fierros returned, Barrett told police he heard one of them say Fierros sliced the man’s throat.

Brown told police that Fierros later told her, after the incident, “now you know what kind of man I am.”

Defense attorneys representing the accused declined to comment about the case.

Velten’s attorney, Patrick Fisher, referred to it as an “ugly and unfortunate” case.

Fierros, Brown and Velten are scheduled to return to court May 17 for further proceedings.

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