On Nov. 10 a jury found Jose Antonio Barajas not guilty on 2 separate counts of attempted murder and guilty of shooting at an inhabited vehicle. Barajas is accused of shooting and killing 19-year-old Ariana Zendejas in August 2014. The jury was unable to come up with a verdict on three other counts— murder, attempted murder and kidnapping.
A trial-setting hearing for the remaining charges was set for Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s hard to give a statement when it’s not yet complete,” District Attorney Candice Hooper told BenitoLink. “The jury worked hard and it was difficult for them.”
The family of Zendejas declined to provide a statement.
Nine jurors met with Hooper following the trial. They said they felt it was unproven that Barajas had the intent to kill. The jury, who spent several days deliberating, also said they were divided on the kidnapping count and that they considered it more likely to be false imprisonment.
According to testimony from San Benito County Sheriff deputies at an April 15 hearing, three witnesses claim Barajas fired shots at a vehicle on Aug. 1, 2014 during a pursuit, hitting and killing Zendejas, who was riding in the back seat of the vehicle. She died while being transported from Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital to another hospital via helicopter.
Barajas fled the U.S. after the shooting, and was located and extradited from Mexico on July 12, 2018. He has been held without bail in the San Benito County Jail since his capture. He pleaded not guilty on July 16, 2018.
Hooper told the judge that she will meet with defense attorney Harry Damkar to discuss the pending charges prior to the trial-setting hearing.
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