Santa Maria resident Marilyn Pharis was in the "fight for it all," according to a Marian Regional Medical Center doctor, after she was reportedly beaten and strangled July 24, 2015, by alleged assailant Victor Martinez. 

Pharis, who was 64, died Aug. 1, 2015, eight days after Martinez and previous co-defendant Jose Villagomez allegedly entered her 937 N. Dejoy St. home. Martinez is on trial at the Santa Maria Superior Court in connection with her death. Villagomez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder May 30 and will be sentenced July 19.

The cause of Pharis' death were blood clots that formed in her leg after she was bedridden for days following the attack. The defense contends the hospital's improper medical treatment caused Pharis' death, while the prosecution maintains that the doctors did everything they could to save Pharis and that if Martinez hadn't attacked her, she wouldn't have been hospitalized. 

Dr. Katie Julian, an internal physician at Marian, testified Tuesday that she took care of Pharis from July 26 to July 29, when she said she did everything she could for Pharis -- giving her pain medication, monitoring her atrial fibrillation, giving her ample amounts of oxygen, and continuously putting Pharis in leg compression devices to keep clots from forming. 

Pharis previously suffered from atrial fibrillation, an irregular, rapid heartbeat, according to testimony.

When Julian first met Pharis on July 26, she noticed Pharis was "very stoic," and "had tears running down her face, and was pretty traumatized," she testified under Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen's questioning. Pharis was able to converse, "but was in a state of shock."

Pharis also had an increased heart rate, likely caused by the stress that resulted from the trauma she had just experienced, said Julian, making her atrial fibrillation difficult to control. 

Pharis also told Julian what happened during the attack, according to the doctor's testimony.

"She was very clear in recalling that there were two men, said she was strangled three times, and remembered blacking out," said Julian, but noted that Pharis didn't remember if she was sexually assaulted. 

Throughout the next few days, Julian continued checking for blood clots on Pharis' legs and kept her on leg compressors to prevent clots from forming. Pharis was categorized as "a moderate risk for deep-vein thrombosis," so Julian testified that was careful to put her on weaker blood thinners with caution. 

"I didn't even want to put her on aspirin, because the risk was so high," Julian testified. 

By July 28, Pharis' heart rate had increased again, said Julian, and she was finally given aspirin and anti-arrhythmic medication, "in order to minimize her risk for stroke," which is common for patients with atrial fibrillation. Pharis' condition improved throughout the day, as her chest pain decreased, and her breathing improved.

"I also ordered to keep her moving and to ambulate," said Julian, who added Pharis could walk 75 feet under supervision by July 29 and had good blood flow in her legs. 

During defense attorney Lori Pedego's cross-examination, the attorney questioned Julian about whether Pharis had told her she wasn't sexually assaulted after watching TV news reports about her own attack. 

Pharis reportedly was watching news of her attack when Julian walked into the room, the doctor testified.

"It was surreal to watch her watch herself on TV, and Marilyn began tearing up," Julian said. 

"She did tell me specifically, that she wasn't sexually assaulted, [contrary to media reports]," she added. 

Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


Load comments