Witnesses Testify in Gang-Related Murder Trial

by Kelsey Landon and Hannah Poploskie


Gang-Related Murder Trial Resumes with Witness Testimony

By Kelsey Landon

The jury trial for defendants Justin Matthew Gonzalez, Alexis Ivan Velazquez, and Ruby Aradoz reconvened Tuesday morning in Department 10 of Yolo County Superior Court.

Gonzalez and Velazquez are facing murder charges with numerous gang enhancements. Aradoz is facing a charge of gang activity.

The defendants are three of five suspects accused of the 2016 stabbing of Ronald Antonio in the Casa Del Sol mobile home park in Woodland.

The testimony continued Tuesday November 28, 2017, with the second witness called back to testify, a continuation of Monday’s testimony.

The witness claimed to have observed the stabbing that took place. The defense counsel took their turn Tuesday morning with their cross-examination of the witness.

The defense attorney asked the female witness to identify the subject of photo evidence displayed to the jury, which she confirmed was a picture of the victim after the stabbing.

The defense established with the witness that she claimed to have moved the victim onto the ground, not the stairs, but the picture the attorney displayed clearly showed the victim lying partially on the
stairs.

The defense attorney continued to highlight discrepancies in the witness’ statements. He asked her how she testified that the knife used as the murder weapon was white-handled, when in previous interviews she said she could not see the handle.

The witness stood by her words, by stating that she remembered several details from the incident after the night it happened.

The defense continued their cross-examination by asking the witness about her application for a U-visa, a non-immigrant visa available for victims of certain crimes. The witness claimed she was not familiar with a U-visa before the incident occurred.

In his cross-examination, the defense attorney went on to imply that the witness knew if she cooperated with law enforcement, she could apply for this visa—which the witness repudiated by stating that she had been scared from the beginning to testify, but did so despite her reservations.

The witness was asked about other discrepancies between her previous interviews and the testimony she had given the previous day and earlier that morning. These other discrepancies were related to the places she claimed to have been taken after the incident, suspects she identified, and other witnesses she saw at the scene.

She later identified Gonzalez as the man to have “bear hugged” the victim before he was stabbed.

The defense continued their cross-examination by confirming that no one discussed the case with the witness before she gave her testimony.

The witness claimed the main difference she could see between the two suspects was that one had long hair and the other had short hair. The short-haired man was taller and thinner than the other, and had no facial hair that she could see.

The defense went on to ask the witness if she had been asked to identify the suspects in the early morning of the next day. The witness had not picked out Gonzalez as the person who held the victim as he was being attacked.

The witness would later testify in a hearing involving the case, claiming not to have been shown those photos, and not asked to identify who had held the victim.

In her testimony, the witness also claimed to have seen a white female before the stabbing happened. The witness claimed to have seen this on her regular route through the trailer park when she heard what sounded like an argument.

While she listened to the apparent argument, a white van drove into the parking lot that was next to this location, then the witness heard a gunshot.

According to the witness’ testimony, the white female was present when the victim was being stabbed.

The witness claimed to have seen another female driving the van before and after the stabbing, and the witness claimed she seemed to be giving directions. She said she would later come to understand that the girls were giving directions to the men committing the stabbing.

In her testimony, the witness claimed that, after she heard a commotion, two men came running.

The defense went on to ask the witness about her 2008 welfare-fraud conviction. The defense asked the witness how many documents she had signed under the penalty of perjury, to which the deputy district attorney objected.

The judge dismissed the jury for lunch before ruling on the objection. They would reconvene in the afternoon with the judge’s ruling on the objection.


Murder Trial Resumes Witness Testimony

By Hannah Poploskie

The Casa Del Sol murder trial for three of the original suspects resumed on Tuesday afternoon. Justin Matthew Gonzalez and Alexis Ivan Gonzalez are both facing murder charges, with the third defendant, Ruby Aradoz, being charged with gang involvement.

The first witness of the afternoon was a resident at the Casa Del Sol mobile home park who witnessed the attack. District Attorney Jeff Reisig began the questioning by setting the scene of the evening. The witness was sitting in his car with two friends in front of his unit, watching videos on his phone. During this time, he saw two men chasing each other.

According to the witness, the two men tackled each other and got back up fighting. The one man was screaming and holding his hands up in front of him in a gesture the witness took as wanting to get the attacker to stop. The assailant reached and got an object from his pants and made a stabbing motion. The witness then saw blood and the victim fell down.

The only description of the assailant was a tall man with shoulder length hair who was possibly Caucasian or Hispanic. The district attorney asked the witness about a photo line-up during which the witness identified two men that he believed could have been the assailant. While he did not remember identifying the men in the photographs, the district attorney brought out the police report, which refreshed his memory.

The witness reported that he walked to the scene after the assailant fled and saw the body of his neighbor Tony (Ronald Antonio). While they were not very well acquainted, Tony was known to walk his dog around the complex and the witness had known him for about two years.

During the cross-examination, the witness revealed he only saw two people involved, the victim and the attacker. He also clarified he was sober at the time that he witnessed the attack. When asked if he knew the witness that testified earlier in the day, he explained he did know her, but when he got to the body he was there by himself. He said she was there at some point, but definitely arrived after him.

The next witness called was the victim’s neighbor who was with him right before the murder occurred. The witness and Tony were friends and decided to go to a local bar that evening to play pool. Shortly after they began their walk, they encountered a group of women who started screaming at them in anger.

Since the witness was confused and unsure of what happened, he turned to Tony and told him to keep walking. After telling the women that he did not know what they were talking about, even after one said she was bleeding, the witness kept walking with his head down, continuing to the bar.

Later, he was approached by a woman who was showing her arm and asking for the witness’ shirt to stop the bleeding. Not wanting to get involved, he continued his walk with Tony behind him. The next time he turned around to check if Tony was still with him, he saw that no one was behind him. After pausing, unsure of what to do next, the witness began his trek back to his unit.

After returning to his unit, the witness saw Tony lying on the ground dead. The witness went into his home where his stepdaughter was standing, talking on the phone with the police. She was relieved he was okay, but the witness was very shaken up.

Footage from the surveillance cameras were played for the court. The first camera showed the two men walking across the street when a woman approached the figure, and the witness identified that figure as himself. The woman next walked up to Tony, which resulted in him taking off his shirt and handing it to the woman. Tony and the woman both walked in different directions while the witness continued walking on, not looking back.

The next camera angle captured the witness walking toward the exit of the complex, with the very end of the video showing what appeared to be figures running in the corner, a sight that the witness did not recall.

The district attorney asked the witness numerous questions about what he heard at the time between when he encountered the woman and when he walked back to his apartment. While it was mentioned that there was a sound of people running like horses, the witness could not say exactly when it occurred in regard to the woman approaching him for his shirt. Trying to refresh his memory, the district attorney handed a police report to the witness.

Even after reading the document, the witness insisted he did not recall telling the police certain things in the report, appearing flustered. Counsel then asked if the witness wanted to be there, to which he responded that he did not because the experience really affected both his and his family’s life.

Upon cross-examination, what was heard was again brought into question. Besides the sound of running, the witness could not recall hearing the word “scrap” called out. Responding to the inquiry as to whether he remembered hearing the word “Bosque,” the witness responded, “What is that?” As with the previous witness, he was asked if he knew a prior testifying witness, and he told the court he did not. He was then dismissed and told he was subject to being recalled.

When the next witness took the stand, the district attorney asked him if he wanted to be there, to which he replied he did not. He was identified as being on parole, after serving time in prison for multiple felonies, during which time he joined a gang. He regretted the decision and later left the gang, a move that could be dangerous as he now was known as “a drop-out.”

On the evening of the murder, he was wearing headphones and walking his dog  while on his skateboard. He was approached by two men who asked him to identify himself. Backing up, losing both his dog and his skateboard in the process, the witness asked the two men to leave him alone. The one man was trying to calm the other one down, and they eventually left.

Turning to the surveillance footage again, the witness was seen riding his skateboard when two men suddenly approached him, one approaching rapidly and the other trying to hold his companion back. Later the witness admitted he had a knife which he took out during the incident.

Following the confrontation, footage showed the witness walking around—he said looking for his dog—when he was approached by a man on a bicycle. The man asked what was going on and the witness told him to leave to avoid trouble. The suspect believed he was approached and asked to identify himself because he was in his work clothing, which were the colors a rival gang wears.

When cross-examined, the witness said when he took his knife out the blade did open, but it was an accident. It was also questioned whether he dropped out of the gang or if he was removed, but the witness skirted the question and replied there was no real difference. His questioning ended with him confirming that gangs had rules including not hurting children, elderly or innocents, and breaking these rules would result in consequences.

The district attorney called one final witness to the stand, who was a Woodland police officer. He told the court he administered swab testing on the two male defendants, and performed these tests according to the instructions on the kit. The kits were then submitted to evidence. The officer was dismissed from court. The Honorable Daniel P. Maguire dismissed court for the day. The case will resume on Wednesday morning.



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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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