By Makisha Singh
In Department 4 on April 8, 2015, with Judge Rosenberg presiding, the questioning of witnesses continued in the case concerning an altercation turned knife fight that occurred in front of the Main Street 7-Eleven in Woodland on December 11, 2014.
The victim, Albert Torres, who suffered from three stab wounds to the face and neck, claims to have gone to the 7-Eleven to get a movie from the Redbox kiosk with his roommate, Weston Johnson, and friend Janice Rodriguez, when he was approached by two men and subsequently attacked by one of them.
The witness, Weston Johnson, expressed to Judge Rosenberg that he did not want to testify in this case and believed he was subpoenaed to court for another reason. After Johnson complained a number of times, Judge Rosenberg firmly told Johnson that he had no choice in the matter as a subpoenaed witness. According to Johnson’s recollection, two unfamiliar Hispanic males, one of which he identified as being in custody, approached Torres. However, Johnson is very clear that it was not the individual in custody, William Connell, who was the primary aggressor against Torres, but that the other guy was. Johnson claimed to have seen this other individual brandishing a blade and saw Torres stabbed at least once. The fight abruptly ended when someone yelled, “Cops!”
Following this fight, Connell, the other guy, and Rodriguez fled the scene while Johnson tried to rush Torres to the hospital in his car, as blood was draining from his neck. Along the way, they were pulled over by the police and an ambulance escorted Torres the rest of the way to the hospital.
During questioning, the attorney paid specific attention to Johnson’s answers regarding a tattoo that Torres has on his neck, of a large LA symbol in the Dodgers fashion. It is clear the attorney was suggesting Torres was affiliated with a gang, specifically the Sureños.
The next witness, Rula Mazariegos, was a homeless woman who happened to be charging her phone using the outlet in front of the 7-Eleven. She was acquaintanced with Torres and was asked about his tattoo as well. Mazariegos also claims to have heard someone, probably a bystander, shout “Norte!” at the end of the confrontation. She also identified Connell as one of the two individuals, and also agreed that he was only involved in the verbal altercation, not the physical fight. Following the fight, she said she saw a bloody knife on the ground.
Torres himself was the next witness, and he explained that he has lived in Woodland for 10 years but is originally from Long Beach, California. When asked about his tattoo and gang affiliation, Torres admitted to having been involved with a Sureños gang, Barrio Nueva Estrada, when he was younger but not anymore. Torres admitted that he did fight back after the aggressor hit him and that the repercussions of the blows have left him with memory problems and an injured right arm. He agreed that the fight could have been gang-related.
This case was continued on the afternoon of April 13 with a witness, Lopez, called for questioning, It seems that after Connell fled the scene, he went with a male friend and female friend, Rodriguez, who was in custody, along with a 14-year old girl Myla, to Myla’s house to attempt to hide. Lopez is Myla’s mom and she said that when she saw her daughter with these suspicious people she sent them all away, only to immediately change her mind and go back after her daughter, as she no longer wanted her hanging around these older people. She took her boyfriend, Joey, outside with her to get her daughter back and a fight ensued among all of the people. Joey, she said, had about seven stab marks on his back, so Lopez called an ambulance. Lopez claimed that Connell was the one to start this fight.