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In this file photo is Arturo Herrera, right, speaking with his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sydney Bennett, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in September. 


Council OKs sharing agreements for use of jail

The Lompoc City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved agreements that will allow several area law enforcement agencies to utilize the Lompoc Jail to hold arrestees.

With the agreements, officers from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and Santa Maria and Guadalupe police departments will be able to book suspects in the Lompoc Jail rather than be forced to travel to Goleta.

The agreements were sought by those agencies as a cost-effective alternative to the longer round trips to Goleta, which became necessary when the Sheriff's Office shuttered the North County Jail facility in Santa Maria in July.

According to the agreements, the city of Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County will pay Lompoc about $147 per prisoner booked at the Lompoc Jail. Based on the number of bookings anticipated by the Santa Maria Police Department (500) and the Sheriff’s Office (222 to 608), Lompoc “may realize between $106,134 and $162,876 in reimbursements,” according to a Lompoc city staff report.

Guadalupe will not be forced to pay anything. Lompoc Police Capt. Deanna Clement explained at Tuesday night’s Lompoc City Council meeting that Guadalupe anticipates booking only about 50 people per year, which “would be minimally impacting our jail,” she said.

She further pointed out that the city of Guadalupe often offers its officers free of charge for special events in Lompoc, such as parades.

Santa Maria

Sentencing delayed in fratricide case

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Arturo Herrera, who was found guilty Friday of murdering his younger brother in their Lompoc home last year, has agreed to delay his sentencing through the end of the year, while his attorney works toward retrying his case. 

A Santa Barbara County jury found Arturo, who turned 32 on Wednesday, guilty of killing Enrique Herrera, 28, on July 4, 2016. In addition, the jury also found the special allegation -- use of a deadly weapon to commit the crime -- to be true, despite the weapon never being found. Enrique reportedly sustained several severe blows to his head, along with fractures in his skull.

Herrera's original sentencing date set for Oct. 11 was vacated at the request of his attorney, Sydney Bennett, who said she plans to file motions for a possible retrial. 

The next court date is scheduled for Nov. 11, when attorneys will argue those motions.

Following last week's verdict, Bennett said in a statement that the Public Defender's Office will be pursuing all avenues of appeal in this case, "as we firmly believe in Mr. Herrera's innocence."

Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens prosecuted the case.

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