Judge refuses to dismiss charges against man accused in slaying of Santa Maria woman

Jose Villagomez.
Jose Villagomez.

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge on Monday denied a motion to dismiss some of the charges faced by 22-year-old Jose Villagomez in connection with the death of a 64-year-old woman in Santa Maria in 2015.

Villagomez, 22, and Victor Aureliano Ramirez Martinez, 31, are charged in connection with the brutal attack on Marilyn Pharis, an Air Force veteran, in her northwest Santa Maria home. She died at the hospital eight days after the July 2015 attack.

Judge James Voysey denied the motion filed by Villagomez’s attorney, Michael Scott, seeking dismissal of special circumstances alleging rape by instrument, burglary and robbery.

“Based on the facts of this case, the court is convinced that Mr. Villagomez was a major participant,” Voysey said.

In asking for dismissal of special circumstances, Scott argued that the prosecution was required to present specific evidence that Villagomez intended to aid and abet Martinez during the sexual assault.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen argued that Villagomez saw Martinez beating Pharis and believed he was going to sexually assault her.

“And knowing that, at the request of Mr. Martinez, he went and looked out the window to see if there was anyone coming, allowing Mr. Martinez the precious time he needed to commit the crime,” Bramsen said.

Both men have been charged with first-degree murder, along with numerous special circumstances. Martinez was accused of committing the violent attack. He also faces additional charges.

The case returns to court May 18. The trial, which is expected to last five to six weeks, is set to begin Aug. 14.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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