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Following the Dec. 21 preliminary hearing in Santa Maria Superior Court, defendant Jonathan David Highley was held to answer to the March 4 fatal shooting of Anthony "Tony" San Juan outside Elmer's bar in Orcutt. 

A June trial date has been set for the man accused of fatally shooting Anthony San Juan outside an Orcutt bar one year ago. 

Jonathan David Highley, charged in connection to the homicide plus two special firearm enhancements, will stand trial in front of a jury June 4 at the Santa Maria Superior Court. Trial confirmation is scheduled for May 30.

The trial is expected to last about four weeks, according to the prosecution. 

Highley will return to court in three weeks for a trial readiness conference, at the request of his attorney Mark Owens. 

Following the preliminary hearing in December, Judge Gustavo Lavayen ruled that enough evidence existed to hold the defendant to answer to the charges. 

San Juan died in the early hours of March 4, 2017, outside Elmer's Bar in Orcutt. Sheriff officials located Highley leaving his house with his wife, Mayra Perez, and their four young children early the next morning after the alleged shooting. Both were taken into custody. 

According to preliminary hearing testimony, witnesses described Highley as obnoxious and drunk, and also stated that Highley started multiple fights at the bar the night San Juan was killed. 

However, nobody actually witnessed the fatal shooting, heard gunshots and no surveillance camera ever captured the alleged incident, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

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Perez reportedly drove herself and her children 230 miles back to Orcutt after San Juan was fatally shot and Highley allegedly called her while drunk, according to earlier court testimony. Perez was sentenced to 365 days in County Jail plus five years probation after pleading no contest to being an accessory after the fact. 

According to authorities, Perez reportedly helped Highley clean up and move a weapon, used in the alleged crime, from their home and into their car. She also reportedly lied three times before disclosing to officials what happened that night. 

The prosecution further alleged in earlier court hearings that "even if she's completely separate from what Highley did that night, her role is still covering up a homicide, or attempting to cover up, and helping her husband get away with the homicide," said Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson.

Perez was placed in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention at the Adelanto Detention Facility Center after she was released from County Jail. She sought to have the court reduce her felony charge to a misdemeanor at the risk of being deported, which the judge denied last month, calling her actions "very deliberate." 

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


Courts/Public Safety Reporter