By Edward Garcia
After numerous delays, the jury trial for three of the five suspects accused of the 2016 Casa Del Sol stabbing of Ronald Antonio, 41, began this past Monday.
The defendants—Justin Matthew Gonzalez and Alexis Ivan Velazquez—are both facing a murder charge along with numerous gang enhancements. Ruby Aradoz, the third defendant in the case, faces a charge of gang activity.
The long-awaited trial began Monday morning with opening statements, and picked up in the afternoon with the People’s first witness.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig called to the stand a resident from the Casa Del Sol mobile home park. This witness was one of the individuals who called 911 the night of the stabbing.
Recalling his actions on August 30, 2016, the witness first described hearing two Latinas arguing outside of his unit. He could not distinguish what they were saying.
After the dispute ended, he decided to take out the trash and ran into two of his friends: Tony and Pedro.
The witness approached the woman and offered to call an ambulance.
“You did this to me,” she shouted, and began calling him a “scrap.”
This woman “had a one-inch little blade,” he recalled. She came toward him and kicked him three times, so he decided to run for safety. Under questioning from Mr. Reisig, he stated the woman had a messy bun, a turquoise noodle strap, leggings, and a cut along her forearm.
While running from the woman, the witness saw Tony, whom he urged to go home. This is when he looked toward the entrance of the mobile park and saw two men running toward him. One had a black shirt on and the other a white shirt, stated the witness.
Finding safety in his father-in-law’s house, he hid and called 911.
Additionally, the witness recalled one of the two men yelling “Bosque” which refers to the Vario Bosque Norteños, a Woodland street gang.
In regard to the woman, they had walked past each other a couple of times before but never talked, he stated.
Mr. Reisig attempted to get a better description of the individuals involved, but the witness emphasized he could not identify them. They were Hispanic, and “they didn’t look young.” It was “just a quick glance,” he explained.
Furthermore, the witness identified two vehicles that stood out: a white van and a red beat up Honda.
Finishing the People’s direct, video surveillance was demonstrated to the witness in which he picked himself out from among the scenes.
Following the surveillance video, Judge Daniel P. Maguire allowed Mr. Velazquez’s defense attorney, Roberto Marquez, to initiate cross-examination.
Mr. Marquez asked the witness to clarify whether the two men he saw at the entrance of the mobile home park were together. He stated that they were.
Switching subjects, Mr. Marquez inquired about the witness’ twin brother. The witness stated he saw him “early in the evening,” approximately 40 minutes before this incident with the woman occurred.
Similarly, Jeffrey Raven, Ms. Aradoz’s private attorney, continued this emphasis on the witness’ twin brother. Mr. Raven asked if this twin brother had any affiliation with gangs, to which the witness stated, “He’s tried to.” He referred to his brother’s decision to wear red and act like a gang member.
The witness couldn’t recall what his brother was wearing that day, but stated he was “always at his friend’s house.” His friend’s house was a known “meth house” and located at Casa Del Sol. As a result, it was not uncommon for his brother to be there when he wasn’t, stated the witness.
Last up for the defense counsel was Keith J. Staten, Mr. Gonzalez’s defense attorney, who kept focusing on the twin brother. The witness specified for Mr. Staten that his brother would regularly ride a bicycle.
Returning to the surveillance video, Mr. Staten asked the witness to give the court an affirmative answer to whether those individuals he saw on August 30, 2016, were actually in the video. Ending cross-examination, the witness did not waver and gave an affirmative yes.
Judge Maguire excused the first witness and the People brought forward their second witness of the afternoon. Similar to the last, this witness was also a resident of Casa Del Sol. She knew the victim, Mr. Antonio, and witnessed his stabbing.
On August 30, 2016, the witness explained exactly where she saw the stabbing take place. She was across the street from Antonio’s trailer.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman asked about the men involved with the stabbing, specifically who was armed. The witness testified to only seeing one of the two men holding a knife. He was a “young man, about my height, had long hair and a beard,” she stated. The knife was long and had a white grip.
Continuing her recollection of the events, she said she paused across the street because the two men were running toward her neighbor. “I didn’t know what was going on,” she explained.
The first individual grabbed the victim from behind, and then came the armed individual. The unarmed individual was taller than the other assailant, and clean-shaven.
Mr. Vroman wondered if Antonio had yelled something to the two individuals. “Never, I never heard anything,” the witness stated.
Before the attack, she only saw Antonio walking home wearing sport shoes and shorts. “He wasn’t wearing a shirt,” she recalled.
After they stabbed him, “they let go of him, he fell down, and they ran off again.”
Antonio dragged himself to the neighbor’s house where he knocked on their door until his body could no longer hold itself up, and collapsed onto a bench, the witness stated.
At this time, she called 911 but hung up. Her focus was on helping the victim and remembering which way the assailants headed. She took a picture of Antonio with her cell phone, hoping it would be of use to law enforcement.
The People asked if this was the first time she had seen these assailants.
“No, I had seen them once before in the area,” the witness stated. They were her neighbors from across the street.
Asked to retrace her steps, the witness testified to being at the scene of the crime because she had gone to pick up her mail. The two assailants were walking with her at this time, she stated.
Additionally, a white van was precisely in front of her home and two women were arguing—one inside the car and the other outside of it. She heard, “No, Nina, don’t go! Don’t go!” It looked like the car wanted to head their way.
Meanwhile, another woman was walking with the two assailants. “She was the one giving them instructions,” she recalled. The witness also heard this third woman say, “Here he is, come get this piece of s—.”
After the stabbing had occurred, this same woman walked up to Antonio’s body and said, “Oh my f—ing god, Oso did it, he f—ing did it.”
The witness made it clear that she had never heard of anyone called “Oso.”
Lastly, Deputy DA Vroman asked about her suspect identification for the police. When presented by the police with choices, the witness identified the man she saw believed committed the stabbing. And, like that day, she stood up to identify the suspect for the court.
“This is something I’m never going to forget,” she said, and identified Mr. Velazquez as the individual who committed the stabbing.
After the witness identified the defendant, Judge Maguire excused the witness for the day and court was adjourned.
The trial will reconvene November 28, 2018, at 9 am in Department 10.