SANTA CRUZ -- Arraignment was postponed Wednesday for five people facing murder charges for the death of a 51-year-old homeless man in Santa Cruz.
Jeremiah James Long, 26, is charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon, which prosecutors said in this case was a skateboard.
Charles "Chef" Powers' body was found Friday night near Depot Park in what investigators have called a homeless camp. The Coroner's Office determined he died of blunt force trauma to the head from being hit with a skateboard. Rocks were thrown at him, too, deputies said.
Long appeared in court Wednesday morning with the four other people charged: Shaelyn Zeanne Gonzales, Michael Valgene Hudson, Jason Michael Weiland and Tina Anderson. All five suspects were described as transients.
Gonzales, 21, cried as she sat in the courtroom in red jail clothes wearing leg shackles and handcuffs. Several times during the proceedings, she mouthed the words "I love you" and "I'm sorry" to an older man sitting in the benches as well as to a group of supporters sitting in the back.
Judge Paul Burdick ordered the defendants to return to court Dec. 5 for arraignment to give attorneys time to review the case and determine if there are any conflicts of interest.
He also denied media requests to photograph Wednesday's appearance, citing potential identification concerns.
Mark Pike, a friend of Powers, came to court because he "wanted to make sure someone was
Pike said he and Powers previously worked together at a restaurant on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. He said that after Powers stopped working at the restaurant, the two kept in touch and he frequently gave Powers food and other support.
"I'd feed him and give him a little cash," Pike said. "As long as he was sober, I was willing to help him out."
Powers only had been homeless for a few months, and wasn't a drinker or drug user, Pike said.
"He was going to be getting a check this week to get off the streets," Pike said. "He had housing lined up, he was about to get his life together."
Pike said he didn't learn of his friend's death until Tuesday, a day after Powers failed to meet him to go to a meeting with the unemployment department.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96