Two Monterey County prison guards have been arrested in the Sept. 7 death of a well-respected vineyard manager resulting from a fight outside a San Miguel bar.
Sergio Aranda, 35, of Salinas and Travis Woolf, 36, of San Miguel were arrested Thursday following a lengthy investigation into the death of 54-year old San Miguel resident Alvaro Jaramillo Medrano outside the Elkhorn Bar on the 1200 block of Mission Street.
The two men were being charged with a count of voluntary manslaughter for their alleged roles in the fight, said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said.
"Working in close cooperation with the District Attorney's Office, we determined that there was no intent to kill Mr. Medrano, which would have led to a homicide charge," Cipolla said.
Woolf was arrested without incident at work, but while attempting to arrest Aranda, deputies were notified that an attorney had already posted his bail, and he was not booked.
According to the Sheriff's Office, both men are employed as correctional officers at Salinas Valley State Prison in Monterey County.
Prison spokesman Lt. Darren Chamberlain said Woolf has been a correctional officer at the facility since October 2001 and Aranda has worked at the prison since July 2006. Both are assigned to inmate housing units, he said.
Chamberlain said both officers were placed on administrative leave Friday morning, though he could not say whether they were on paid or unpaid leave.
Medrano was a well-known vineyard manager at La Vista Vineyard in Paso Robles and worked as a consultant for other vineyards.
Ken Riding, owner of La Vista Vineyards, said Friday that Medrano assisted in all phases of development of their vineyard, including design, clone selection and planting.
“I trusted him with everything,” Riding said. “The reputation this vineyard has is because of Alvaro.”
Medrano previously worked as a labor contractor before becoming a consultant for La Vista Vineyards in 2007 and later was hired as the full-time vineyard manager in 2009. Riding said Medrano was honest, hard-working and a well-respected expert on growing grapes.
“When we were just starting, we were told that Alvaro was the man. If we had an issue, he would solve it,” Riding said. “And they were right — Alvaro was the man.”
Riding added that Medrano leaves behind five adult children.
Cipolla said the investigation into Medrano’s death was muddled by conflicting statements by the large number of people involved in the alleged fight.
Cipolla said additional information provided to detectives eventually resulted in the issuing of two arrest warrants. But because the investigation remains ongoing, Cipolla said he could not elaborate on what that information was.
Staff at the Elkhorn Bar declined to discuss the incident.
As of Friday afternoon, neither man was in custody, according to jail logs.