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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Countywide

Trial Set for Fall in Beating Death

March 22, 2000|TINA DIRMANN

Jury selection for the trial of seven Ventura gang members and associates charged with the beating death of 18-year-old William Zara last September is scheduled to begin Nov. 27.

Indicted by the Ventura County Grand Jury in December on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit assault were Frank Olvera, 33, and his wife, Rosana Olvera, 36; Terry Schell, 22; Chris Gonzales, 22; Mario Jaquez, 19; Benny Mendez Lopez Jr., 18; and Thomas Barrios, 21.

A 14-year-old boy was also arrested in the murder; his case is expected to begin in May in juvenile court. The Superior Court case is expected to last three months because of the number of defendants on trial, prosecutors said.

The defendants are accused of fatally beating Zara on Sept. 25 with fists, a bat and a shovel outside his home on East Warner Street in Ventura. Authorities said the alleged attackers mistakenly believed Zara called the police to complain about a loud party they were having across the street.

If convicted, Schell, Gonzales, Jaquez, Barrios and Lopez would be subject to additional prison time because they are considered gang members or gang associates, prosecutors said. A California statute makes it a crime to be a gang member or associate who urges gang members to commit a felony.

Frank Olvera and Lopez also face charges that they wielded bats, shovels or other weapons during the attack. Authorities believe the two men inflicted the fatal blows.

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