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George Ied

Paul Wellman

George Ied


Star Witnesses on Hot Seat

Gang Member Testifies Against Accused Accomplices in Murder Trial


Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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As the prosecution’s case winds down this fifth week of trial, Steven Santana, one of the key witnesses against three defendants on trial for the homicide of George Ied on the city’s Eastside in October 2010, said all three were involved in kicking and punching Ied into unconsciousness. The 37-year-old Syrian man sustained critical injuries that led to his death days later.

Steven Santana
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SBPD

Steven Santana

While Santana has admitted to jurors he was involved in the assault as well, defense attorneys for the three charged with murder ​— ​Michael Cardenas and brothers Miguel and Ismael Parra ​— ​spent the better part of last week in court attacking Santana’s credibility, picking apart his statements to police since the incident, and pointing out each and every lie he’s told. The defense hopes to show that what Santana is telling the jurors in court can’t be trusted. Leading up to his testimony, Santana has made conflicting statements to authorities, and he’s admitted much of what he said in the past wasn’t true.

Santana took a deal in which he pleaded to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for truthful testimony. Santana’s fate is still in the air, however. He faces anywhere between probation and time served to 21 years in state prison when he is sentenced at the conclusion of the trial.

Miguel Parra
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SBPD

Miguel Parra

While other evidence and testimony thus far has pointed to the four’s involvement ​— ​including blood found on the clothing of both Parra brothers ​— ​prosecutor Hans Almgren is relying on Santana as a key eyewitness to explain exactly what happened that night. Santana told jurors he saw Cardenas punch Ied in the face and that he fell to the ground. “Did the man ever get up after that?” Almgren asked. “No,” replied Santana, appearing on the stand in orange jail garb with his hands shackled to his waist. From there, Ismael Parra joined in and began to kick and punch Ied, Santana said during questioning from Almgren Wednesday afternoon, and he and Miguel Parra joined in, as well.

Ismael Parra
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SBPD

Ismael Parra

Cardenas punched Ied more than 20 times in the face, Santana estimated, and stomped on him several times. Ismael Parra was stomping and punching, Santana said, while Miguel kicked him in the lower torso and leg area. Santana said Ied went unconscious, but the group continued to hit and kick him for 10 to 15 seconds after that. While the other three went back to the Parras home, which was across Punta Gorda Street from the assault, Santana said he walked away because Cardenas was angry.

But this story was much different from previous versions Santana had shared with police. He told the jury he wasn’t forthcoming with authorities at first because “I was scared.” He knew Ied had been beaten pretty badly, he said, and he also knew, according to gang code, “You’re not supposed to talk with law enforcement.” Even after discussions about the need to be truthful to get a plea deal, Santana didn’t tell the truth, he said. He was still minimizing his own involvement, he said, and also that of Miguel Parra.

Michael Cardenas
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SBPD

Michael Cardenas

It was these multiple, differing statements that defense attorneys seized upon. Deputy Public Defender Michael Hanley, who is representing Ismael Parra, began his cross-examination by asking Santana, “How many versions of the truth have you given?” Three, Santana responded.

Hanley went on to question Santana about bruises on his hands and scabs on his elbows at the time of his arrest. The scabs, Santana said, came as a result of falling at the skate park earlier in the day. The hand bruises were from hitting Ied. “You initially said you didn’t hit the victim,” Hanley said. Correct, Santana replied. In court, Santana admitted to hitting the man as many as 20 times. Were his answers at earlier interviews, Hanley asked, the result of Santana trying to protect himself? Correct, Santana said. “That first interview was basically a lot of lies, correct?” Hanley asked. Correct, Santana responded.

“You expect ​— ​rather, you hope ​— ​that you’ll be getting out of jail rather soon?” Hanley asked. “I hope so,” Santana answered. Hanley, during his opening statements, distanced Ismael Parra from the attack, putting most of the blame on the shoulders of Cardenas.

The questioning didn’t slow once Hanley was done, as Adam Pearlman, attorney for Michael Cardenas, and Sam Eaton, attorney for Miguel Parra, also attacked Santana’s integrity. “You lied to [police] to save yourself, right?” asked Pearlman. Correct, Santana said. “You made this deal in your own self-interest?” Pearlman asked. “Yes,” said Santana. Pearlman, through his questioning, suggested it wasn’t his client who initiated the interaction with Ied, but Santana himself, along with another man not implicated in the attack.

“Do you agree that since the beginning of this investigation … you were willing to lie if you thought it was going to help you?” Eaton asked, to which Santana replied yes. Eaton went back to Santana’s plea deal, asking him if he understood that voluntary manslaughter ​— ​the crime he admitted to ​— ​included intent to kill. “Did you intend to kill George Ied?” Eaton asked. “No,” Santana said, adding after another question from Eaton that he didn’t think any of the four meant to kill Ied when the assault began.

The trial is expected to extend to mid-March. Hanley said during his opening statement that his client, Ismael Parra, would take the stand in his own defense, an event expected to take place this week.

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what a bunch of sell outs. so much for there precious gang code

tonka (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 6:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Never have understood why a rat's word means anything to anyone, if anything guilty is guilty.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 7:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Four men beat one man to death. Just another glaring example of how pathetic and cowardly a human can become.

It's difficult to believe there are advocates for gang members and their right to gather and intimidate people on the streets. Might as well stand for the rights of cockroaches.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 11:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That is rather unfair to cockroaches; roaches cannot help themselves and gang bangers have free will, albeit I am all in favor of stamping out gang scum as if they are roaches.
According to wiki, cockroach comes from the spanish cucaracha, we're racially profiling even with insects...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"It's difficult to believe there are advocates for gang members and their right to gather and intimidate people on the streets."
-- Validated

Let's look at that. According to the constitution, everyone has a right to a full defense. Advocates for citizens - not "gang members" - are just exercising the constitutional rights of those they defend. You have a problem with that?

They are defending the defendants rights "to gather" which is another fundamental constitutional right. You have a problem with that?

"Intimidation"? Yeah, I have a problem with that.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The Police offer a plea deal on the first thug to cry and then indict the rest. After sweating out the whole group, the DA uses each ones testimony to try the others until all are serving time, to the extent the one who squeals first can suffer far worse than his / hers cohorts; especially if the DA or Police drop dime onto the jail or Prison personnel to let the inmates know the rat.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 7:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These four all-time losers are going to get what they deserve - many years behind bars and hopefully off our streets forever.

The rat will get his payback from the gang bangers in prison or out on the streets if he's released on probation. If he is, I'll bet he lasts no more than a month before we see him as a news item again.

Barron (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 8:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It makes me sick that these punks have no problem beating a hard working family man to death! They all should be locked up for LIFE as far as I am concerned!

santabbb46 (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My opinion is not to worry about racial profiling humans or insects, I have more concerns for the people who cut this rat a deal. Are you kidding me there is a chance he may get probation or time served WTF. Meanwhile the courts are sending people who are caught with paraphanelia to jail for 6 months to a year and probation and forced to take drug classes, Shame on our court system. What these four "people" did was wrong and the po po and courts want to take one weak link and cut him a deal four squeeling on the other three for doing the same thing. How dare the law cut a deal with this stooly. How does the court and police pay him back for his job well done, by putting him out on front street and putting his photo in the newspress and letting everyone know he is no good. The old saying goes if you cant do the time dont do the crime. I bet all four wish they could turn back the clock but you can't. This is a senseless disgusting crime. Murder is not done just by gang member and all are not roaches. look at Oscar Pstorias who just killed his girlfriend. Scott peterson who killed his wife. Drew Peterson who killed three of his wifes. All Scum and Drew was a law abiding police officer. There is no predjudice in murder and I doubt if 'validated' would stomp out anyone and if you think you would then its my opinion that you are no better then these other four cowards.

jesscuz (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 3:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

jesscuz my guess is that a deal was cut because the police wanted to get all four for what they did! Just imagine if a deal was not cut all four would be saying through their attorneys that they were just going over to "help him" ...

Easy4UtoSay (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 2:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Looks like I offended the gang enabling crowd. You're all no better than the scum you support. I beg to differ that a group has the right to gather as part of a gang in public places in furtherance of their activities.

This crime was a perfect example of the gang culture. 4 on 1 is straight up cowardice.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 4:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I do not know any facts or stuff like that, but if it involves the mention of gang or associates or something similar sounding, I know therefore and logically that we need the gang injunction here in Santa Bruta. It just makes us feel better to know that someone is doing something, somewhere.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 9:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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