Antonio Magana

SP teenager arrested as suspect in slaying of pregnant Ashley Moran

August 15, 2014
Santa Paula News

A Santa Paula teenager was arrested Thursday, almost five months to the day after his pregnant girlfriend’s stabbed and beaten body was found in an area park.

Antonio Magana, also known as Anthony Magana, 18, was arrested at about 3:55 p.m. August 14 without incident after Santa Paula Police Officers spotted him driving down the 300 block of South Palm Avenue, said Commander Ish Cordero.

Magana is suspected of killing Ashley Moran, 21, of Santa Paula, whose body - located near a basketball court on a secluded slope and partially hidden by brush - was found by a passer-by on the morning of March 15 in Obregon Park. The small neighborhood park is located on the 300 block of San Clemente. 

An autopsy showed Moran died from blunt force trauma and stab wounds to the upper body. Investigators believe that she was killed overnight between March 14 and 15.

Moran was in the early stages of pregnancy at the time of her death; it is not confirmed at this time if Magana was the father but Cordero said, “We believe he is... we’re waiting for DNA tests to come back.”

Cordero said Magana, a documented gang associate born January 29, 1996, was 18 at the time of the crime he is suspected of committing.

“His background with us is really not that much,” and investigators, “So far believe he acted alone,” in the attack.

Cordero said, “We never did recover a weapon, we’re not sure if it was a knife but it was a sharp object,” that inflicted the wounds on Moran.

“From what I understand,” Magana and Moran, “had an on and off relationship, not sure for how long, but everybody said they were boyfriend and girlfriend. But he has another girlfriend... and a child.”

Aurora Cantero, Moran’s mother, said her daughter had been seeing Magana for about a year, a relationship punctuated with breakups.

Like Moran, Magana lived with his mother, and Cantero said, “He had another girl, he told Ashley he never cared for the other girl and the baby wasn’t his.”

Magana’s arrest is bittersweet for Cantero and her family: “In a way I’m happy that he was caught but still sad that I won’t see my daughter any longer... but in the same way he’ll be in prison,” so Magana’s family will also suffer a loss although not as final as the loss of Ashley.

“Justice will be done,” said Cantero.

“I really appreciate the hard work of the detectives and Chief Steve McLean as well as Robert Coughlin, an investigator with the DA Office,” a team that Cantero said worked hard together to build the case against the man suspected of killing her daughter.

Cordero said there was strong determination to solve the case and “From the initial investigation we had all this information coming in, names and reasons, but Magana stayed on top as one of the main persons of interest. And as the investigation continued he always stayed on top... it came to the point where we are positive he is our suspect.”

Cordero admitted, “It was about the longest, complex and  complicated investigation that I have ever been involved in or seen our detectives involved in, working jointly with the District Attorney investigator. They all did a phenomenal job, working long hours, in putting this case together... the commitment required was remarkable and my hat is off to them.”

About a week after the slaying SPPD served early morning search warrants on three homes simultaneously, interviewing occupants and seizing items. 

Following his arrest Thursday Magana was booked into the Ventura County Jail for felony murder; his bail was set at $500,000.

He was due in court for arraignment Tuesday, August 19.

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