Man convicted of killing teen in Oceano drive-by asks for new trial

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 2, 2013 

A convicted murderer’s request for a new attorney was denied Thursday, though his sentencing was once again delayed after he requested a new trial.

Armando Yepez was convicted of murdering 17-year-old Gabriel Salgado during a Nov. 17, 2011 drive-by shooting. While his conviction guarantees a life prison term, his formal sentencing will give Salgado’s family members an opportunity to address the defendant.

So far that opportunity has been delayed on multiple occasions as Yepez, 22, of Santa Maria, has requested a new trial and a new attorney. After a hearing on Yepez’s request Thursday — which was expected to be followed by a sentencing if denied — Salgado’s family was clearly frustrated, one of them posting a message on a Facebook memorial page saying, “Postponed again!!! WTF!!

Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett denied Yepez’s motion during a hearing closed to the public and the prosecution. The so-called Marsden motion Yepez filed claims that a defense attorney was either ineffective or had a conflict of interest. To prove that, according to court precedents, Yepez had to relate specific instances of his attorney’s inadequate performance — not just disagreements over tactics.

The Marsden motion isn’t filed often, though it is occasionally employed in criminal cases. Last summer Alfonso Fierros, convicted of murder in Paso Robles, also requested a new attorney just before sentencing. His request was denied, and he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

A court date for Yepez’s new motion was set for June 10. If a new trial is not granted, he is also set to be sentenced on that day.

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