Park Hill murder suspects retain attorneys

Four of the juvenile suspects appeared. The newspaper has

The sixth suspect has been charged in a murder of a Hollister man on Park Hill in January 2011, while four of the five juveniles accused in the case appeared in court Tuesday to retain attorneys.

The sixth suspect charged in the murder of 39-year-old Mark Arballo – and the last of six accused assailants arrested over the course of Thursday and Friday – is 16-year-old Matthew Williamson.

Williamson is among five juveniles charged as adults in the case. The lone adult facing related charges is Conrad Copado, 22, who is in state prison for a 17-year stabbing conviction from late last year. Prosecutors filed an order to have him appear at a 9 a.m. Feb. 23 arraignment at the San Benito County Courthouse.

Ray. J. Gonzales, 17, also did not appear in court Tuesday. He was the first suspect arrested and charged. He appeared late Thursday and previously had a preliminary setting scheduled for 9 a.m. March 1.

The prosecution, however, hopes to combine the separate cases so they all appear together as the proceedings move along, said District Attorney Candice Hooper. Prosecutors intend to push for all six suspects appearing next at the Feb. 23 hearing.

Hooper stood in at Tuesday’s hearing for Deputy District Attorney Patrick Palacios, who is overseeing the prosecution’s case.

During the brief proceeding Tuesday, a judge appointed public defenders for three of the juveniles in attendance, and a fourth revealed he privately retained attorney Art Cantu.

The suspect represented by Cantu is Isaiah G. Mendoza, 16. Investigators alleged he “personally killed” the victim, Palacios has said.

As for the others retained by public defenders, attorney Greg LaForge is representing Gonzales. Attorney Tom Worthington is representing Lizette V. Castillo, 16. Attorney Elvira Z. Robinson is representing Williamson. Attorney James Dozier is representing Tanya Jiminez, 16. And attorney Harry Damkar is representing Copado.

They are accused in the Jan. 4, 2011 assault on Park Hill of Arballo, who suffered injuries to his head and face and died about a month later. Authorities are alleging it was a gang-related homicide and retaliation against Arballo for being a witness to another crime.

They face respective allegations of first-degree murder along with other gang-related felonies. Due to ages at the time of the murder and other circumstances for each suspect, potential exposure varies from 35 years to life in prison to life without parole, Palacios said.

With the exception of Williamson, a Santa Clara County resident, all of the suspects are from the Hollister area.

Anyone with information should call Detective Theresa Aguilera at (831) 636-4330. People wishing to remain anonymous can call WeTIP at (800) 78-CRIME.


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