By William McCurry, Lauren Smith, and Samara Yarnes
WOODLAND – Defendant Jose Luis Gomez Arreola, facing murder charges here in Yolo County Superior Court, this week heard multiple witness testify he was the man who shot and killed someone outside of a Woodland bar in 2011—but none could identify him in court as the shooter.
At the beginning of a preliminary hearing, private defense attorney Michael Chastaine requested shackles be removed from the defendant. Judge David Reed ruled that the defendant’s hands should be released, but his ankles should remain shackled in order to prevent the defendant from fleeing the courtroom.
Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian called his first witness and showed him a photo of a black four-door truck with a camper on the back. The witness claimed that this truck did not look similar because the truck that he recalls seeing did not have a camper on it.
Next, DDA Kian played a snippet of the bar’s surveillance footage and asked if this was the same video the witness was shown when he was first contacted by the police. He thought this was the same video, but was not sure that he could identify anyone from the video.
The witness further identified the man he believed to be the shooter from a photograph DDA Kian showed him; however when asked to identify Arreola in person, the witness was unable to do so.
This witness claimed that he came to the bar that night with some friends. One of his friends was near the car when the shooter started firing out of the driver’s side of the truck. The shooting first started when a fist fight began with a small group of men prior to the shooting.
After the victim was shot, the shooter fled the scene.
Under cross-examination, the witness testified that he saw a side profile of the shooter with his gun when he got out of his truck.
The witness stated that the shooter was about five feet and seven inches tall, and was the shortest of the group he was with.
After learning that the witness had a few beers on the night of the incident, Chastaine attacked the accuracy and validity of the witness by asking him a number of questions he was not able to respond to, or responded with “I don’t think so.”
The witness admitted that he never called the police after the shooting occurred.
Kian called in his third witness to the stand who was present at the bar during the shooting on March 6, 2011.
The witness testified that on the night in question, she was at the bar with her friends and mom. At the bar, she saw a group of guys get into a fight inside before they were kicked out. She did not recall why they were fighting.
After she left the bar, she heard the men fighting in the parking lot, but continued to walk to her car. She stated that she did not see anyone holding a gun, but that she heard an “absurd amount of gunshots.”
The witness testified that, after the shooting occurred, she realized that one of the bullets grazed her lips, creating a burn.
DDA Kian then asked the witness if she recalled the direction in which they were shooting. She stated that they were trying to scare the other group of guys off because the shots were being fired all over.
She was then shown a picture of the men standing outside the bar and she identified them as the group of guys that got kicked out of the bar; however, she was not sure if any of them was the shooter.
Under cross-examination, the witness described the gun used in the shooting as black, small in frame, and automatic.
The defendant’s preliminary hearing resumed in the afternoon when DDA Kian called a man to the stand who witnessed the shooting back in 2011.
The witness testified that the defendant got in a fight in the bathroom of the club with a friend before the bouncer threw them out into the parking where the eventual shooting occurred.
The man stated that when the shooting began, he was standing in the doorway of the club. He described hearing five to seven shots that all sounded like they were from the same gun. He stated he did not see who was shot or the gun, but described the shooter as wearing a pink shirt with a white tank top underneath and black jeans, like a “cowboy.”
After the shooting was over, the witness stated that he “didn’t know what was going on…everybody was scared” and that “everybody took off.”
The man testified that he saw the shooter hop into the back left side of a black truck before it drove away. He did not call 911.
The witness was then asked to view surveillance footage outside the nightclub the night of the shooting. He identified the defendant in the video footage wearing a pink shirt. He also identified the black truck belonging to the defendant.
DDA Kian then called a second witness to the stand who runs a business that allows people to cash checks. The witness was familiar with the defendant because he often cashed checks there.
The witness remembered the defendant because they had cashed a bad check for $3,500. This allowed him to identify the defendant in a photograph..
After realizing the check was fake, the witness had contacted the defendant in an attempt to get his money back. The witness claimed that he was told to contact another person who would fix the problem, as the defendant was leaving for Mexico since “something serious happened in Woodland.”
The defendant’s preliminary hearing will resume.
William McCurry is a fourth year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.
Lauren Smith is a fourth year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. She is from San Diego, California.
Samara Yarnes is a senior at the University of California – Davis, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Psychology and Sociology. She is originally from La Crescenta, California.
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