Hollister crime: Murder suspect alleged to have weapon in jail, council looks to ban pot dispensaries

Jose A. Covian faces a jury trial Jan. 25 at the San Benito

The man accused of murder in the stabbing death of 28-year-old
Alejandro Hurtado in late 2007 is facing additional charges
alleging he possessed and exhibited a weapon at the San Benito
County Jail on Oct. 26.
Murder suspect accused of having weapon in jail

The man accused of murder in the stabbing death of 28-year-old Alejandro Hurtado in late 2007 is facing additional charges alleging he possessed and exhibited a weapon at the San Benito County Jail on Oct. 26.

Jose A. Covian, 23, is suspected of stabbing and killing Hurtado in December 2007 in the 800 block of C Street during a confrontation outside a party. In the murder charge to which he has pleaded not guilty, Covian is set for a jury trial Jan. 25, with a trial setting Jan. 14.

At the San Benito County Courthouse today, Covian faced arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the new charge as well. Prosecutors allege Covian possessed and exhibited a dirk or dagger at the jail in October and filed the charges Dec. 15, according to court records.

Public Defender Gregory LaForge, who is representing Covian in both matters, said the district attorney’s office “is obviously going to attempt to use that” – the latest charges – in the murder trial. LaForge said he would “vigorously oppose” related testimony in the trial later this month.

“Anytime you deal with a jailhouse snitch, your case becomes suspect,” LaForge said.

City moves toward banning sale of medicinal marijuana

Hollister City Council members Monday directed staff members to develop a proposed ordinance that would ban the sale of medicinal marijuana here.

Council members showed consensus in making the request to the staff in the wake of a proposal by Purple Cross Rx to open a dispensary in Hollister. Previously, the council last month voted against changing the zoning code – which prohibits functions in violation of federal law – to allow for the sale of medicinal marijuana.

Councilman Ray Friend broached the topic of requesting a draft ordinance to ban its sale in Hollister and received support from fellow council members.

Despite what served as a rejection, Purple Cross Rx has indicated it is taking customers for delivery of medicinal marijuana in San Benito County. It is unclear what implications the proposed ordinance might have on enforcement of marijuana sales here, but at least one councilman has noted how officials will consider potentially commissioning help from the police department or district attorney.

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