Two men were killed in Ventura in apparently unrelated incidents on Sunday, December 4.  According to police reports, one victim was fatally shot, while the other succumbed to multiple stab wounds.  These incidents are part of a recent surge in homicides in Ventura, where homicide figures have tripled since last year.  Our Ventura murder defense lawyers examine county-wide crime trends from 2016 in closer detail.  

2 Killed in Ventura, Where Homicides Tripled in 2016

At approximately 1:20 A.M. on Sunday, December 4, police responded to the site of a homicide near the intersection of Seaward Avenue and Alessandro Drive, just beyond the shoreline of San Buenaventura State Beach.  The victim was identified as 27-year-old Spencer Turner of Ventura.  Turner, who had been shot in the chest, was pronounced dead at the scene despite efforts to revive him through CPR.

Within hours, a second, apparently unrelated homicide was reported near the intersection of Ash Street and Main Street, just a few blocks away from Plaza Park and the Majestic Ventura Theater.  Around 7:30 A.M., police identified the second victim, 51-year-old Rito Estrada, who sustained multiple stab wounds to the upper torso.

Homicides are uncommon in Ventura, and for two to occur on the same day is almost unheard of.  For context, only two homicides were reported in Ventura throughout the entire years of 2014 and 2015.  With seven reported in Ventura so far this year, homicides have more than tripled in 2016.

The Ventura Police Department has not yet issued a firm statement about what may be behind the increase.  “It’d be a little bit easier to say that it was all gang-related, but it’s not,” said Ventura PD Cmdr. Tom Higgins, “so it’s hard to say.  There’s no one thing that we can specify that could have caused the increase.”

10 Violent Crimes Reported in the Entire County

According to crime reports compiled by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, only 10 violent crimes – two cases of rape, one case of robbery, and seven cases of aggravated assault – were reported throughout the entire county from January through November of 2016, further highlighting the unusual nature of the recent surge in homicides.  It is more common for people to be arrested for property crimes in Ventura County, which outnumbered violent crimes five to one.

The most common property crimes were larceny (theft crimes) and motor vehicle theft, of which 22 and 25 cases were reported, respectively.  Burglary was much less common, with only four cases reported.  Other common types of crimes in Ventura County during 2016 included:

  • Domestic Violence Crimes – 14 cases reported
  • Drug Crimes – 12 cases reported
  • Forgery/Counterfeiting – 13 cases reported
  • Fraud – 13 cases reported
  • Misdemeanor Assault – 10 cases reported

The two homicides that occurred in Ventura on December 4 are currently under investigation.  According to Cmdr. Higgins, the Ventura PD has not yet identified any possible suspects.  However, if suspects are apprehended and charged, they will be facing extremely severe consequences.  Depending on whether the defendant is charged with second degree murder or, even more seriously, first degree murder, he or she could be facing a prison sentence of 15 years to life in prison or 25 years to life in prison.

Last month, Californians rejected a ballot that would have eliminated the death penalty, instead passing Prop 66, which hastens the appeals process.  The intent of Prop 66 is to increase the efficiency with which executions are performed, so that defendants who have been convicted of murder do not sit on death row for years or decades.  Prop 66 passed narrowly, earning the support of just 51% of voters.

Ventura Homicide Defense Attorneys Handling Murder and Manslaughter Charges

Homicide offenses like murder, manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter are among the most serious crimes a defendant can be charged with committing in Ventura County.  Depending on the circumstances, a defendant who is convicted of murder could spend the rest of their lives in prison, permanently deprived of their freedom.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a homicide offense, or charged with manslaughter under penal code 192 in Ventura County, it is absolutely imperative that you are represented by a California criminal defense attorney who knows how to efficiently handle violent felony cases.  The criminal defense lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth are firmly committed to providing each defendant with a vigorous and strategic defense informed by more than 22 years of experience in Ventura County’s criminal courts.  Ron S. Bamieh, our firm’s founding attorney, carries the unique distinction of being the youngest attorney to be promoted to Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney.

A Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Bamieh & De Smeth serves all of Ventura County, including Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Santa Paula, Port Hueneme, Camarillo, Moorpark, Fillmore, and Ojai.  To arrange a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (805) 643-5555 immediately.