by Esmeralda Figueroa and Edward Garcia
Casa Del Sol Murder Case Testimony Continues
By Esmeralda Figueroa
On Monday morning the trial resumed for co-defendants Alexis Velazquez, Justin Gonzalez and Ruby Aradoz.
Shortly after the jury entered the courtroom, Judge Daniel P. Maguire announced that Ruby Aradoz accepted a plea deal on Friday, December 1, 2017, and would be testifying for the prosecution at 1:30 pm.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman called the lead investigator to the stand. The investigator testified that he was familiar with both Velazquez and Gonzalez prior to the incident that occurred on August 30, 2016. Vroman played a surveillance video which captured four views from a laundromat near Casa Del Sol mobile homes. Vroman then asked the officer to identify any subjects that appeared on the surveillance video. The investigator described the first subject as Ruby Aradoz. Aradoz is seen standing next to a vehicle that was parked outside the mobile homes; shortly after, a man on a bike approaches her direction. The surveillance video shows Aradoz has an altercation with the man on the bike. Then Aradoz walks toward the laundromat holding her right arm upward. Shortly after that, two males approach Aradoz, Ronald Antonio and an unidentified male. Mr. Antonio then removes his shirt and gives it to Aradoz to wrap around her arm.
In a second view from the surveillance video, Velazquez and Gonzalez appear to be walking outside the mobile homes toward the laundromat. As both defendants approach the laundromat, Velazquez
throws his arms up, while Gonzalez is walking next to him looking at his cell phone, then they disappear.
Once again, Velazquez appears and continues to walk toward the mobile homes. The surveillance video then shows Aradoz, Velazquez, and an unknown female run toward the mobile homes where the victim, Mr. Antonio, was walking without a shirt. As Velazquez runs toward Antonio, Velasquez pulls a metal object out of his clothing. All the subjects then disappear from the surveillance video.
In another view from the surveillance video, Gonzalez appears to be walking on the far end of the street, in the opposite direction from Aradoz, Velazquez and the unknown female. Then Gonzalez walks toward the mobile homes and turns left onto another street away from Aradoz, Velazquez and the unknown female.
During cross-examination, Defense Attorney Keith Staten, representing Gonzalez, asked the officer if Gonzalez was going in the opposite direction to Velazquez during the time Velazquez ran toward the victim, and the officer replied, “Yes.” Staten then asked the officer if Gonzalez turned right eventually before approaching Aradoz, Velazquez and the unknown female, and the officer replied, “Yes.”
The trial will reconvene at 1:30 in Department 10.
Defendant Turns Witness in Casa Del Sol Trial
By Edward Garcia
After the lunch break, the detective’s testimony came to an end and Ms. Aradoz, the defendant turned witness, testified for the prosecution.
First, Defense Attorney Roberto Marquez, representing Alexis Velazquez, began the afternoon session with his cross-examination of the detective.
Under questioning from Mr. Marquez, the detective explained he interviewed a female witness to the murder on several occasions. In the first interview she never mentioned “Oso,” he said. The detective was not sure when this key witness used the nickname, but said it was “perhaps during second interview.”
Continuing his testimony, it was made clear that this key witness had lied to the detective about knowing where the individuals involved with the stabbing went after the altercation.
On October 26, 2017, the detective met with the witness again after she contacted the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. She was “wondering why she was not listed as a victim.”
In relation to this meeting, the defense asked the detective if he knew the witness was trying to apply for a U visa—a nonimmigrant visa for victims of crimes. The detective did know. She had initially been rejected, stated Mr. Marquez.
Ending his cross, Marquez wondered if this key witness ever told the detective about the knife being pointed at her. He could not recall, yet when the witness’ U visa was approved it said she had a knife pointed at her.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Mr. Staten, took the floor. He began by highlighting his client’s whereabouts throughout the surveillance video.
Furthermore, he focused on the description of the second man involved with the stabbing—not the individual with the knife—and read it for the detective. The key witness described this second man to the detective as brown, thin, tall, and having a goatee.
Mr. Staten emphasized that this same witness could not pick out this second man in the photo lineups shown to her by the detective.
Bringing an end to cross-examination, Judge Maguire gave the floor to the People, who followed up on the detective’s administration of the photo lineup. The detective testified that the photo of Mr. Gonzalez correctly depicted him, but it did not exactly look like he did on the night of the stabbing.
In response, Mr. Staten demonstrated the photo line-up to the detective, who confirmed telling the key witness the suspects she saw could have altered their appearances from the photos in the lineup. The only thing different was the mustache and a “soul patch,” a small tuft of facial hair below the lower lip, stated the defense.
This brought an end to the detective’s testimony. Judge Maguire excused the detective, and asked the People to bring forward their next witness: Ruby Aradoz.
Addressing the question on everyone’s mind, District Attorney Jeff Reisig asked Ms. Aradoz why she decided to become a witness. “I’m going to testify and we made an arrangement,” she said, and “my charges will be dismissed.” She signed a plea agreement this past Friday.
Moving forward with her testimony, Ms. Aradoz recalled the events on August 30, 2016. She first arrived at the Casa Del Sol mobile home park with her friends, Amanda Herrera and Malinda Collins, the latter being a co-defendant in this case. They went to the mobile homes to stop by the home of Cynthia Tello, also a co-defendant. The defense of Collins and Tello are separate from this proceeding due to scheduling conflicts.
In regard to Tello, Aradoz said, “We used to be friends.” They were not in good standing with each other during that time.
So, while her friends visited Tello, Ms. Aradoz waited outside near Fiesta Way. A guy on a bike approached her and she began talking with him. It was when this guy took off on his bike that she noticed her arm bleeding. She described it as “a laceration to my right arm.”
Aradoz didn’t know the man, but was pretty sure he was the cause of the cut.
Continuing her testimony, Aradoz recalled seeing two men whom she approached for help. One of them gave her a shirt to stop the bleeding. “I asked for it,” she clarified for the People.
What happened next was described as “a whole lot of commotion.”
An individual she knew as “Oso” ran around the corner, with Mr. Gonzalez and her friend behind him. Aradoz clarified for the People that at this moment there was no knife she could recall. Later on she did see Oso with “a silver kitchen knife.
“The guys were having a physical altercation,” she stated. She described the altercation as resembling a fist fight. The shirtless man was on the ground and the defendants were on their knees.
“Would you call this an attack?” asked Mr. Reisig.
“Yes, I would call it an attack,” replied Aradoz.
At least to the best of her recollection, no one said anything she could particularly remember.
When the altercation ended, Oso, with a knife in his hand, was standing over the man. This prompted Aradoz to leave. Mr. Gonzalez followed her, which allowed her to notice he also was holding a knife in his hand. He looked angry and was cussing a lot, so Ms. Herrera told him to go away.
Both Aradoz and Herrera went to the car and waited for Ms. Collins.
Aradoz explained to Mr. Reisig that she did want to provide information to law enforcement, but was really “shaken up.”
Returning to the description of the scene of the murder, Ms. Aradoz could not recall anyone else being there, and she didn’t see where the two defendants went afterwards.
It was made clear that she only knew Mr. Velazquez by the nickname, Oso. Mr. Gonzalez she only knew as “Vanessa’s new boyfriend,” she stated.
Through her friend, Ms. Aradoz knew Oso was affiliated with a gang.
DA Reisig began to focus on the details of the night. Returning to when she first saw Oso, Aradoz did not know why Oso yelled out her middle name—that was the first time he ever talked to her. He called her and “caused me to go with the crowd.”
Prior to all this, witness testimony asserted that Aradoz had called a resident a “scrap.” Ms. Aradoz denied this claim.
“I was really intoxicated,” she stated. She had drunk vodka at a park prior to arriving at the mobile home park.
“I have picture clips,” she said, describing her memory of the night. Ms. Aradoz confirmed it’s possible she just doesn’t remember.
Mr. Marquez began his cross-examination by asking what type of cooperation had occurred since Friday. “I spoke with an investigator,” replied Aradoz.
The defense reminded Aradoz about the requirements of the plea, namely that she had to testify truthfully.
Returning to August 31, 2016, Mr. Marquez asked if she was truthful in her statements to detectives. Aradoz did not remember specifics, but said, “I did not provide untruthful information.” At most, she withheld information.
She was reminded about her statements to law enforcement regarding her intoxication. Aradoz confirmed consuming a substantial amount of alcohol, so much that she was suffering from blackouts even before arriving at Casa Del Sol.
The defense brought up another statement in which Aradoz claimed to have left the mobile homes after seeing Oso turn the corner. She admitted to lying to law enforcement in this instance.
Originally, Aradoz stated she blacked out and regained memory in the parking lot. It turned out that she actually blacked out, but regained memory during the altercation.
Wrapping up the afternoon, she testified to finding out about the murder much later. She also didn’t recognize that Mr. Antonio was the individual who gave her the shirt.
After reminding Aradoz to report back tomorrow, Judge Maguire adjourned court for the day. The trial is set to reconvene on December 5, 2017, at 9 a.m. in Department 10.