Monday, January 8, 2018 – 12:00 a.m.

A San Diego appellate court has affirm a $6.5 million jury award to the target of  murder-for-hire scheme involving two member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

On December 19, 2017, Division One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict in the case of Leonard Epps v. Barajas et al.

In 2015, a San Bernardino County civil jury capped off an initial $4.5 million compensatory damages award to plaintiff Leonard Epps, the former manager of the now-shuttered Brass key Lounge in Highland, with a second jury handing Epps a second verdict for another $2 million in punitive damages from Tribal Members Erik Barajas and sister Stacy Nunez-Barajas.

Epps was seeking an extra $27 million in punitive damages. Nevertheless, $6.5 million is a modest payday for always having to look behind your back.

Throughout the appeals process legal judgement interest has since accrued on the original amount bringing the revised total to near $8 million.

On January 3, 2018, the same appellate court denied a petition for rehearing filed by Barajas attorney Christopher Lockwood.

A drug trafficking investigation by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and officers from the San Bernardino Police Department uncovered evidence, during wire tap surveillance, that the Barajas’ had contracted with members of the Mexican Mafia to kill Epps.

The two siblings pleaded guilty before trial and received “extended probation”, in lieu of state prison confinement.

Nunez-Barajas eventually violated her probation and continues to serve the bulk of a fifteen year state prison term.

Epps’ is represented by Highland-based attorney Frank Peterson.

To read the appellate opinion, click the following link: D072619