SanManuel

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 06/05/15 –  8:10 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> A jury on Friday awarded a man $2 million in punitive damages in a civil case he brought against two San Manuel tribal members who authorities say conspired with the Mexican Mafia to kill him.

Plaintiff Leonard Epps of San Bernardino filed the lawsuit against San Manuel tribal members and siblings Stacy Nunez-Barajas, 32, and Erik Barajas, 42, on Sept. 24, 2008.

During the first phase of the trial in 2013, the jury awarded Epps $4.5 million in compensatory damages. The trial’s second phase, in which the jury determines if Epps should be awarded punitive damages, was delayed after a mistrial was declared because one of the jurors could no longer serve due to the government shutdown at the time.

After a nearly 2-year delay, the punitive damages phase of the trial began on May 18.

Friday’s jury award brings the total in damages awarded to Epps to more than $6.5 million. Including interest, the total amount awarded to Epps is $6,577,000, according to a news release from Epps’ attorneys.

The Barajases conspired with members of the Mexican Mafia to kill Epps in 2006 following a confrontation Erik Barajas had with Epps at the now defunct Brass Key bar in Highland, according to authorities. Erik Barajas believed Epps was responsible for him being robbed, at gunpoint, of $4,000 by four men Epps let into the bar, said Joseph Arias, the attorney representing the Barajases in the case.

Arias said Friday the case was far from over, and that he plans to file a motion for a new trial on grounds that the awarded damages are excessive because Epps was never physically harmed.

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