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Ibarra courtroom

In this photo from July 18, 2013, several defendants and their attorneys crowd into a Santa Maria courtroom for a hearing over the murder of Anthony Ibarra. Six defendants remain.

2,100.

That's the number of jury summons sent out to Santa Barbara County residents in the high profile U-Haul murder trial set to begin next month, making it the second-largest in the county behind the 2005 Michael Jackson trial.

In that case, 4,000 potential jurors were summoned.

The summons, which were broken up into three groups of 700, went out on Oct. 20, 21 and 22, according to Santa Barbara County Superior Court Executive Officer Darrel Parker.

The vast number of people called to report has made it necessary to hold jury selection — set to begin Nov. 17 — at the Santa Maria Fairpark's Fountain Pavilion in Santa Maria, a venue with a holding capacity of 750 people standing or 450 seated.

Potential jurors have been asked to report to the Fountain Pavilion on Nov. 17, 18 and 19.

"We've scheduled the facility though Dec. 19, and we hope to have jury selection completed before that date," Parker said. 

Of the 2,100 potential jurors summoned, 18 will be chosen — 12 as seated jurors and six as alternates — which is the total number of people a new jury box that is being constructed for the trial at the Santa Maria County Juvenile Court will hold. 

"The footprint of the juvenile court dictates the size of the jury," Parker explained.

The defense unsuccessfully argued for a change of venue in December and again on Oct. 10, stating their clients could not receive a fair trial due to the media coverage surrounding the case.

Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Rick Brown, who is presiding over the trial, denied the motions and told the defense they had not met the burden required and that he believed media coverage in the case had been largely factual, not sensational in nature. He said that the size of Santa Barbara County, as the 18th largest county in California, would afford the defendants a fair trial.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, who is prosecuting the six defendants — Ramon David Maldonado, David Murillo Maldonado Jr., Santos Manuel Sauceda, Reyes Gonzales Jr., Jason Castillo and Anthony Jesus Solis — dismissed conspiracy to commit murder charges for the six remaining defendants Oct. 10 in an effort to streamline the case.

The defendants have been charged with murder in the torture and stabbing death of 28-year-old Anthony Ibarra, of Santa Maria. Ibarra's naked body was found lying facedown and covered with a mattress and other furniture in the back of a rented U-Haul truck parked on a residential street in Orcutt last March.

Investigators believe he was tortured and killed at a home in the 1100 block of West Donovan Road in Santa Maria prior to being found. Authorities allege the motive for the murder was an unpaid drug debt.

The trial is expected to last through February 2015.

Potential jurors who have been summoned and have questions may contact the court at 614-6468. Due to a high volume of calls, the line may ring busy; those who call are encouraged to keep trying until successful. 

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