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The couple charged in connection to a fatal shooting near Elmer's bar that led to the death of Anthony "Tony" San Juan appeared for arraignment at the Santa Maria Superior Court on Tuesday.

The arraignment was continued to Friday morning. 

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

Highley's wife, 29-year-old Mayra Perez, faces the crime of accessory to the murder after the fact. 

The couple, dressed in their blue-colored Santa Barbara County Jail uniforms, made a brief appearance Tuesday afternoon with their attorneys. As soon as they were ushered into the courtroom by bailiffs, family members of the victim, who were seated in the audience clutching onto a Kleenex box, immediately broke down into tears at the sight of the two accused of killing San Juan.

Highley's attorney, Adrienne Harbottle, requested and was granted a continuance until 8:30 a.m. Friday, when a new attorney is expected to be assigned to the case. Perez's attorney, Billy Redell, joined in the continuance request. 

At prosecutor Anne Nudson's request, both defendants were issued a stay-away order from the female victim named in count two, meaning they are prohibited from contacting Doe through any means. 

Bail remains at $500,000 for Perez, and $2 million for Highley. 

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Authorities allege that San Juan was shot and killed early Saturday morning in the back parking lot of Elmer's bar in the 100 block of East Clark Avenue. The shooting reportedly occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m., when deputies responded to a report of a man with a gun at the Orcutt bar. 

Throughout the course of their investigation, Santa Barbara County sheriff's detectives developed information that pointed to Highley being a possible suspect. Shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, sheriff's detectives took Highley into custody as he was leaving his residence with his wife and four children. 

After an intensive and comprehensive investigation at the Santa Maria sheriff's station, which included the processing of the crime scene, gathering of physical evidence and interviewing several witnesses, Highley was arrested in connection with the homicide. 

He was booked at the County Jail on charges of murder, preventing or dissuading a witness by force of threat, assault with a firearm on a person, threatening a crime with intent to terrorize and intentional/personal discharge of a firearm in commitment of a felony causing death. Perez was arrested and booked on an accessory charge. Child Protective Services responded and took custody of Highley's children.

A GoFundMe page campaign has been set up for the San Juan family. 

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


Courts/Public Safety Reporter