Last week a jury convicted two felons of first degree murder and face life in prison after a murder kidnapping in May of last year
VISALIA – A Tulare County jury convicted Julio Madrigal and Jose Barraza of first degree murder and two counts of kidnapping with the use of a firearm in the hands of a felon. Both men face life in prison at their sentencing on May 9.
According to the District Attorney’s office, Madrigal, 32, and Barraza, 41, were found guilty on Monday, April 11, almost a year after the crime. The jury also found that a firearm was used during the commission of the crimes. Just before the trial, Madrigal pled to two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition by a felon.
Madrigal has a prior strike conviction from 2009 for voluntary manslaughter for the benefit of a criminal street gang. He was released from prison on Oct. 27, 2020, less than seven months before killing the victim in this case. Barraza has a prior strike conviction from 2000 for arson causing great bodily injury. Since Barraza’s prior conviction, he sustained an additional 4 felony and 13 misdemeanor convictions.
The DA’s office stated that the victim of this case sat in the front passenger seat of a parked car in the City of Tulare with his girlfriend on May 21, 2021. The female victim was seated in the driver’s seat. While the two spoke, Barraza drove up in a separate car with Madrigal. The defendants parked door-to-door with the victims’ vehicle and then exited their car and surrounded the victims’ vehicle on either side.
Barraza accused the male victim of stealing drugs, but the male victim denied the accusations. Barraza then told Madrigal to take the female victim in the defendants’ car and that he would take the male victim in the victims’ car. Madrigal opened the driver’s door and tried to forcefully remove the female victim from the driver’s seat. During the struggle, the vehicle drove forward several feet. Madrigal was halfway inside the car, on top of the female victim then shot the male victim in the forehead, killing him.
Madrigal then took off on foot until Barraza managed to pick him up in their car, and the two fled the scene together. Police later found the defendants’ car, with its windows smashed out, dumped in a water-filled canal in Kings County. The police searched for the defendants for the next five weeks. When they finally located Madrigal’s hideout and attempted to apprehend him, he fled but was caught.
In the area he was seen running, police found a cell phone that had been bent in half with its SIM card missing. After a search of Madrigal’s hideout yielded a handgun with Barraza’s DNA on it, it was later determined to be a different gun from the one used during the killing.
About a week later, police saw Barraza sneak out of a residence and enter a vehicle. Police attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle and Barraza got out and fled but was caught. Barraza was wearing large sunglasses and a baseball cap with attached hair extensions. A phone found in Barraza’s backpack was missing its SIM card and was determined to have been factory reset, meaning all its data was erased.