During a continued arraignment hearing Wednesday, the media temporarily lost its bid to take photographs of the couple charged with the fatal shooting of Tony San Juan earlier this year, despite having been granted prior approval. 

Jonathan David Highley, 35, is charged with San Juan's murder and faces a special firearm allegation -- personal and intentional discharge of a firearm to cause death/great bodily injury to the victim. He also faces a second charge of assaulting a second victim, Jane Doe, with a firearm. 

Highley's wife Mayra Perez, 29, is charged with being an accessory after the fact. 

No pleas were entered during the hearing and the arraignment was continued to June 7.

As the couple was brought out before Judge Gustavo Lavayen on Wednesday, Highley's attorney Mark Owens protested media photographs of his client before the case was even called, noting Perez was dressed out in civilian clothes but Highley was not, wearing County Jail-issued clothing. 

The attorney insisted that the media requests to photograph the couple he received this week were not filed five court days prior to the hearing, as required. 

Perez, however, was dressed out, wearing slacks and a light green top, but her attorney, David Bixby, also objected to photographs, accusing the media of "clicking pictures while we were in the midst of protesting."

Despite Lavayen previously approving media requests for the case, he noted that given the short notice this time around, defense counsel was not served in a timely manner, and denied photographs. He also ordered all media to file requests at least five court days in advance of any hearing. 

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The judge, however, reminded both attorneys to be ready and have their clients properly dressed out be aware of the fact that, due to the high publicity of the case, "it's likely the court will be issuing those orders," to which all parties agreed. 

San Juan, 43, was shot and killed early March 4 in the back parking lot of Elmer's bar in the 100 block of East Clark Avenue in Orcutt at about 1:30 a.m. Highley was named a possible suspect following the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's investigation. 

Perez was reportedly in Merced with her four children visiting family at the time of the incident, and returned to the area after receiving a phone call from Highley. 

The morning following the deadly shooting at about 9 a.m., county sheriff's detectives detained Highley and Perez as they were leaving their residence with their children. Child Protective Services also responded and took custody of the children following the couple's arrest. Both were charged by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office three days later. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


Courts/Public Safety Reporter