Goleta Homicide Suspect Arrested: Trial Awaits Marino Luis Diaz


Houston Sasselli

News Editor

In the quiet confines of Old Town Goleta, tragedy struck on the morning of Nov. 1, when 57-year-old Efrain Alvarado Morales was found dead near the intersection of Pine Avenue and Carson Street. 

As the community grappled with the shock of this heinous crime, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s detectives swiftly responded to the scene, leading to the arrest of 42-year-old Marino Luis Diaz only hours after Morales’ death. He was found the next day and transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with injuries. 

As the investigation unfolded, the term “person of interest” had been introduced, raising questions about the complexities surrounding Diaz’s detainment. A person of interest is typically an individual who may have information relevant to the investigation but has not been labeled a formal suspect. In Diaz’s case, the reasons for designating him as a person of interest remains unclear. Detectives may have identified factors that warranted further inquiry, such as Diaz’s proximity to the crime scene or potential connections to the victim, but further statements on this have yet to be released. 

Nevertheless, the resulting charges of “first-degree murder, a special allegation of using a deadly weapon (a knife), and aggravating factors” were filed Nov. 3, and further arrangements were set for Nov. 6

The trial, People v. Marino Luis Diaz, has yet to have a date assigned, and the police have remained relatively quiet on the details of the crime. To stay informed, the City of Goleta will continually post updates about the details of the alleged homicide to bring the death of Morales to justice. 

Beyond the legal dimensions of this tragic incident lies the human element — the grief of a family mourning the loss of a loved one. Efrain Alvarado Morales, described as an excellent father, husband, and friend, has left a void that extends beyond the crime scene. To support Morales’ family during this challenging time, a GoFundMe campaign has been initiated. The fundraiser underscores the financial burdens that often accompany such sudden and devastating events.

In light of the recent series of unrelated stabbings over the summer, such as the incident on Aug. 14 in Isla Vista, it becomes increasingly apparent that reporting information is vital for the safety and well-being of the community. In this specific case, two male victims were stabbed after a confrontation with an unknown male subject and his associates. The victims, despite sustaining non-life-threatening injuries, were unable to provide details about the incident, underscoring the challenges investigators face without community input. Prompt reporting of such incidents is crucial not only for the immediate response to the crime but also for establishing patterns and connections that may assist law enforcement in preventing future occurrences.

In the pursuit of justice, community involvement is paramount. Law enforcement agencies often rely on tips and information from the public to piece together the puzzle of a crime. The tip line, (805) 681-4171, serves as a vital conduit for community members to share details that may assist detectives in their ongoing investigation, and can be used for any crimes in the future. Community engagement not only aids law enforcement but also reinforces the sense of collective responsibility in maintaining the safety and well-being of the community.Furthermore, in the coming days and weeks, as legal proceedings unfold and the community grapples with the aftermath of this crime, it is essential to remember the profound impact that collaborative efforts can have. To support the Morales family, one can donate to their GoFundMe.