Apr 18, 2013 8:56 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Prosecutors may seek death penalty against some murder defendants

Officials with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office say they may seek the death penalty for a majority of the people involved in the murder of Anthony Ibarra.

Ten people have been charged in connection with Ibarra's death. His body was found in the back of a U-Haul truck parked on an Orcutt Street last month. Police believe Ibarra was tortured for hours before finally being stabbed to death.

The ten defendants appeared together in court on Thursday. A prosecutor in the case says seven of them may be eligible for a capital murder trial.

"Many of the people involved were gang members," said a Santa Maria Police investigator early on in the investigation. "Some of the information we do have is they were from the same gang."

County prosecutors believe those circumstances will make some of defendants eligible for the death penalty.

Ann Bramsen is the Senior Deputy District Attorney for Santa Barbara County. She says it is unusual to have this many defendants in a murder trial, so the District Attorney's Office is being diligent.

"Death penalty cases drain significantly more resources than a case that's life without parole," said Bramsen.

She says they've decided to accelerate their decision.

"Death penalty cases cost about 20 times the amount of money that a life without parole case costs by the time you go from start to finish," said Bramsen.

Eight of the defendants are charged with murder. Two are charged as accessories after the fact. They are all due back in court on June 6th.

Bramsen says the District Attorney's Office will have a final decision then if seven of them will be facing the death penalty.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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