UPDATE: Parra on Thursday afternoon pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted robbery. He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court Jan. 10.
Charges were filed after a grand jury on Dec. 22 returned a true bill of indictment against Parra. The county’s Indigent Defense Program is representing Parra, and the Public Defender’s office is representing Roberts.
Family of Alcala declined comment afterward.
According to a copy of the indictment, the grand jury heard evidence from seven civilian witnesses, 24 members of the Bakersfield Police Department, a coroner’s official, Bakersfield Fire Department officials, Kern County Probation Department official, seven employees of the Kern Regional Crime Lab and five employees of the District Attorney’s office.
A motions date is scheduled Jan. 10 at which prosecutor John Allen will seek to have the cases consolidated.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A second person is in custody in the death of corrections counselor Benny Alcala Jr.
Sebastian Parra, a key witness who testified at length at a preliminary hearing for the other suspect, has been indicted and was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder and robbery and is due in court Thursday afternoon, according to inmate booking records. The Public Defender’s office confirmed he was arrested in connection with the counselor’s death.
Parra testified at a preliminary hearing that Roberts targeted Alcala because the counselor was charging an electric vehicle and he figured he must have money. Parra said he met Roberts the evening of the shooting and had nothing to do with the killing.
But Deputy Public Defender Lexi Blythe, Roberts’ attorney, has argued Parra invented “potential speculative theories” based on information he learned during his police interview. He said he never saw Roberts with a gun and claimed to hear but not witness the shooting.
Blyth has called Parra an accomplice and unreliable witness who initially spoke with police to try to avoid getting charged with murder himself.
Blythe noted in the motion all shell casings found at the scene came from a 9mm firearm. Parra has a 9mm handgun registered under his name and had been carrying a gun in a backpack before Alcala’s shooting.
Roberts has a hearing scheduled Jan. 10. He’s held without bail.