Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Opening statements made in Juarez murder trial


A year and a half after a 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy was stabbed to death during a gang brawl at the intersection of State and Carrillo streets, the trial for the 15-year-old accused of the slaying began yesterday in Superior Court.
In his opening statements, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer told the jury of 11 women and five men that murder is the “malicious killing of another human being,” and that’s exactly what the case entails.

“This murder was at the hands of Ricardo Juarez, also called Lil Theft,” Dozer said. And it was “murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang with the personal use of a knife.”
Dozer called his opening statements a “roadmap” of how the trial would proceed, and outlined the sequence of events on March 14, 2007, which culminated when Luis Angel Linares was lying dead in a planter behind Saks Fifth Avenue.
He called the combination of students being released early from school that day and the tendency of the city’s main rival gangs, the Westside and Eastside, to congregate on State Street, a “perfect storm.”
Dozer told the jury the evidence will show Juarez was seen by several witnesses wielding a 12-inch knife at the intersection and swinging it at Linares. He also said audio and visual evidence will be presented that will allow the jury to hear and see Juarez explain to a friend how he stabbed Linares, and as he did so, blood came out of the boy’s mouth.
“The best evidence of what he did was what he said,” Dozer told the jury.
The prosecutor also said Juarez will be shown telling a friend in an interrogation room at the Santa Barbara police station that stabbing Linares, “Would have been worth it if I just hadn’t got caught.”
While Dozer painted a picture of a brutal killing at the hands of Juarez, who was 14 at the time and is being tried as an adult, Juarez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Archer, who is co-counsel on the case with Karen Atkins, said the police have the wrong guy.
Archer and Atkins have long maintained it was a 13-year-old boy referred to during Juarez’s preliminary hearing as Ricardo R. who inflicted the fatal stab wound, and he should be the person facing the charge of murder.
She told the jury the evidence will show that Dozer’s opening statements didn’t show “the half of it.”
“The evidence is going to show so much more,” Archer said as she placed a photo of Ricardo R. on the overhead projector. “That’s what you haven’t heard. That’s the one picture you weren’t shown. That’s not Ricardo Juarez, that’s Ricardo [R].”
Archer compared the circumstances surrounding Linares’ death to a complex stage play, which involved a number of actors, costumes and props - and the outcome was tragic.
While Dozer described Linares as an almost-innocent bystander, who was standing next to his bicycle that he rode to school that day, Archer said he was a known Westside gang associate, who had black gloves on, similar to ones worn by Juarez, and was playing his role.
Gloves worn by Juarez and Ricardo R. will likely play a significant role in the defense. Archer spent a decent chunk of time describing the gloves worn by Juarez, which contained none of Linares’ blood, and the gloves worn by Ricardo R., which did contain the victim’s blood.
Archer said the defense will look to debunk the prosecution’s claim that the Eastside Traviesos, the gang Juarez allegedly belonged to, is a criminal street gang. The prosecution must prove this if gang enhancements levied against Juarez can stand.
The defender also told the jury Juarez’ arrest and the charges he faces are the result of a rushed investigation by police, which continued down the wrong path even after they’d discovered the extent of Ricardo R’s involvement and the blood on his gloves.
“The evidence is going to show you another drama was going on. There were other scripts and Ricardo Juarez was not part of that play,” Archer said. “The evidence will show that [Ricardo R] killed Luis Linares and he escaped that day.”
The trial will continue in Judge Brian Hill’s Dept. 2 courtroom tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

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