judges-gavel

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 12/24/13, 7:42 PM PST | Updated: 1 hr ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> A Superior Court judge has granted a new civil trial in the case of a San Bernardino man who sued two San Manuel tribal members who conspired with members of the Mexican Mafia to kill him, according to online court records.

The new trial, scheduled to begin on April 1 with jury selection, will cover only the punitive damages phase, during which a mistrial was declared on Oct. 1. It was declared after a juror, a federal employee, told Judge Michael A. Smith he could no longer serve because his employer was no longer paying him for jury duty due to the government shutdown then underway.

The mistrial came after the jury had already awarded plaintiff Leonard Epps $4.5 million in the monthlong first phase of the trial. which ended in August.

Earlier this month, Judge Michael A. Smith, for a second time, ordered the defendants, San Manuel tribal members Stacy Nunez-Barajas, 31, and Erik Barajas, 41, to produce their financial statements to Epps’ attorney, Frank Peterson. The Barajases did not produce the information — statements of their income and assets — in the first phase of the trial.

The tribal members’ income and assets are necessary for the jury to determine what amount in punitive damages, if any, the Barajases should pay Epps, Peterson said in court.

Judge Smith, at the request of defense attorneys, issued a gag order, which bars attorneys from discussing the case publicly.

Epps sued the Barajases in 2008 after learning of the murder plot that was hatched against him by the Barajases and their affiliates in the Mexican Mafia, Salvador Orozco Hernandez, 49, and his brother, Alfred Hernandez, 45.

To read entire story, click here.