By Alana Bleimann, Aziza Nussipov, and Linhchi Nguyen
ALAMEDA – Judge Thomas Reardon in Alameda County Superior Court Monday listened as three witnesses testified in the jury trial of defendant Jesus Danilo Lima after one of their cousins was shot in a “30 seconds or less” drive-by back in September 2017.
Defense attorney Laurel Arroyo presented these three witnesses, who described the shooting that occurred in the 7700 block of Bancroft Avenue.
During Monday’s morning session, the first witness testified seeing the defendant pointing his gun out of the backseat of a red truck as the witness and his friends were walking over to a liquor store to buy some chips.
As the vehicle drove by, two of the boys were shot, one the witness’s cousin and an 18-year-old friend. When the witness spotted Lima, he said that “the car was facing us, when he was aiming at us, and that’s when he got out.”
After hearing the gunshots, the five others quickly got down to the ground. Lima then approached the remaining boys, who were standing in front of the liquor store, and the witness saw the defendant tucking a gun into his waistband.
In an interview with a police officer, the witness identified it as the same gun that shot his cousin.
Approximately one to two days prior to that incident, according to the witness, he saw a video on Facebook that later allowed him to identify the witness. The video showed a fight that involved the defendant with someone else. “I saw his face,” the witness said. “And when my cousin was killed, it was the same person.”
During cross-examination, prosecutor Maggie Calonge questioned the witness’s reliability of identifying Lima through the car vehicle and seeing him hide his gun.
She pointed out that in his affidavit, the witness initially told the police that he didn’t know who pointed the gun in the back window, and asked him, “Are you trying to change the story now to make my client look worse?”
The witness replied that he was sure that Lima was the one who pointed the gun out the window “because he was the one who walked out with the gun.” But on that point, Arroyo presented the surveillance video of the incident and pointed out that, given the angle, the witness wouldn’t have been able to see Lima put his gun away.
“I can’t see it from here, but when I was there, I could see it,” the witness insisted.
During the afternoon session, many discrepancies were revealed between all the witnesses and their individual testimonies from the preliminary hearing.
The first male witness presented to the jury spoke about the details of the victim’s death, noting, “After the gun fell under the truck, the second person picked up the gun and shot,” he said.
Prosecutor Arroyo claimed that this witness testified in the initial preliminary hearing after the gun was located by the co-defendant, the witness “jumped in and knocked the gun out of the defendant’s hand after he fired the first shot.”
The witness confirmed that this is what he said. But even though this was confirmed, the witness told an officer directly after the shooting that he “didn’t know who shot [the victim] I just saw [the victim] got shot.”
Arroyo rested on this point and moved on to discuss the defendant’s appearance on the night of the shooting. According to the male witness, the “driver had a white sweater, white shirt, and black pants,” adding, “He was little bit tall like about 5’9…he’s a little bit fat…had a bullcut.”
The backseat passenger “was 5’6…probably 16 or 17 years old…the other was smaller about 15 or 16 that person had a grey sweater and his pants were black too, was about 5’4 and is skinny.”
A new male witness was brought to the stand by defense counsel Calonge in order to establish that he saw the red car that was involved but not actually the defendant.
Calonge played a video in order to establish whether or not the witness had changed his testimony. In the video clip, he did not mention about the red car that was involved in the shooting.
In defense, the witness said, “I said to the police officer that it was the same car that fired at us on 98th ave(nue),” even though the video clip revealed otherwise.
When asked to confirm whether he knew how many shots were fired, the witness testified that he did not remember. Calonge responded with, “But you said there were five.”
“I don’t remember. There might have been more than four or five,” the witness then stated.
“So now your testimony is getting more uncertain as time goes on?,” Calonge quipped.
In addition, during a February 2019 testimony the witness never mentioned the defendant’s name and wasn’t able to identify him, claiming, “It was his friend that was driving.”
At this point in the hearing, Calonge claimed that prosecutor Arroyo was “nodding” and “giving clues” to the witnesses on the stand.
Judge Reardon acknowledged this, and kept an eye on Arroyo during the rest of the hearing.
Again, this witness claimed she had never seen the “driver of the red car,” and did not know the date of the shooting nor the month it happened, even though she was present.
Calonge asked if she ever filed a police report after the incident. She stated that “no” she did not because “we thought they were jealous and just driving by to shoot.”
The witness then began talking about the red car that the defendant was driving and the incidents that followed. It was “only 2 seconds” that she saw the car but she “thought the car was kinda old….maybe 2004. I don’t know,” she said.
Once the car drove up next to her and her cousins, around 7 or 8 p.m., “they were further ahead, they began shooting and that’s when we threw ourselves to the ground…they were going by, and as they were passing us the passenger flipped down the window and said, hey what’s up?,” she testified.
Judge Reardon recessed, with the jury trial continuing Tuesday.
Alana Bleimann is a junior at the University of San Francisco majoring in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice Studies. She is from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Aziza Nussipov is a junior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science.She is also a DJ for a freeform radio station, KDVS 90.3FM, and a part of the ASUCD Gender and Sexuality Commission.
Linhchi Nguyen is a fourth year at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and English. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.
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