Second Victim’s Testimony and Contradictions Heard as Preliminary Hearing Resumes for 2011 Woodland Murder


By Avalon Amaral, Roxanna Jarvis, Jose Medina, and Aishwarya Rajan

WOODLAND – Jose Luis Gomez Arreola’s preliminary hearing continued here in Yolo County Superior Court, with new details revealed about the events that occurred in the early morning hours of March 6, 2011 which led to the death of Williams resident Gabriel Villareal Ibarra and the injury of another.

Arreola was quite difficult to see during the livestreamed hearing as he sat at the edge of the table, furthest from the camera, next to his attorney Michael Chastaine. But what did stand out were the blue and white stripes of his jumper from Yolo County Jail.

Arreola is charged with murder, attempted murder and the use of the firearm after being arrested late July in Idaho and transferred back to California for the 2011 shooting and murder of Gabriel Villareal Ibarra. Since 2013, a warrant has been put out for Arreola’s arrest.

It was previously reported by the Woodland Police Department that a fight broke out around 2 a.m. on March 6, 2011, outside of the old La Finca bar in Woodland. The fight eventually led to Arreola allegedly shooting Ibarra and another male, as well as a gathering crowd in the vicinity.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Ibarra “lying motionless in the street bleeding from a gunshot wound.” Although many attempts were made by firefighters and paramedics to resuscitate Ibarra, he died from his injuries.

Over Zoom, Det. Francisco Deleon testified and relayed the statements he took from those present during the incident.

Previous to the incident, Det. Deleon reported that a statement he gathered from a woman present. His statement from her that night revealed that, “the men with the guns were the same men that were throwing beer inside La Finca.” Because of this, individuals inside were forced to be relocated outside.

Once moved, an altercation between two individuals began. One of the men belonged to the group who threw beer inside the bar, and was described as a “light skinned male with green eyes,” and the other was a friend of Ibarra’s brother.

Eventually, according to Det. Deleon’s report, Ibarra’s brother joined the fight and became entangled with a “dark skinned male” who accompanied the green-eyed male and the defendant that night.

The fight was shortly broken up, but began again after the green-eyed male began fighting with Ibarra’s brother. Moments later, gunshots were heard, said witnesses.

Witnesses reported that gunshots were first aimed to the ground then at a gathering group of individuals. The friend of Ibarra’s brother told Deleon that it seemed like one of the individuals who came with the shooter was attempting to take the gun away. It was estimated that more than four shots were fired, one of which killed Ibarra.

In his statement to Det. Deleon, Ibarra’s brother’s friend stated he saw the shooter come from a “large box-shaped pickup truck” parked west of La Finca. He added that he believed the shooting stopped because “he felt that the gun had jammed and that the shooter (believed to be Arreola) and his friends ran from the scene to that four-door  pickup truck.

Ibarra’s brother and his friend chased after the group and set their sight on a man wearing a pink shirt attempting to get into the back passenger door of the truck. While running, Ibarra’s brother’s friend stated hearing in Spanish “get in before they catch us” and “get in dummy so we can leave” from someone in the shooter’s party.

Ibarra’s brother’s friend reported seeing Ibarra on the ground shot before running towards the truck.

Ibarra’s brother’s friend attempted to hold the man in the pink shirt until the police arrived, but his plan unraveled when he heard gunshots. Unclear if they were intended for him, he let go of the individual in hope to find cover.

It is alleged that Arreola fled to Mexico after the murder occurred, stating “something serious happened in Woodland” to an old acquaintance.

Ibarra was not the only victim in this case. Officer Richard Wright took a statement from a second individual at Adventist Health and Rideout Hospital in Marysville who was shot that early morning.

The male victim had been pushed outside after beer bottles were thrown inside the bar. He was standing outside the front door of La Finca, closest to the neighboring All Action Awards, when the fight began and shots were fired. “[He] said he was taking cover when the shots fired and he tried to hide behind a car,” Wright told the Court.

It was only when the victim hopped into the passenger seat of a vehicle and fled that he noticed he was injured. “He thought he was hit by a rock at first,” continued Wright. “It was only after…[he put his] hand on his leg did he look and see blood on his hand.”

While at the hospital, medical personnel told Wright that the bullet had entered through the victim’s left hip and exited through his buttocks. “I only took pictures of the entrance wound,” Wright added. Personnel also informed Wright that the victim had methamphetamine in his system.

During the reconvening of the preliminary hearing for Jose Luis Gomez Arreola, further evidence highlighted the discrepancies surrounding the events of the night of March 6, 2011.

The gunshot victim and witness, was called to trace the nights’ events.  The victim was a friend of the victim shot and killed, and was with him at La Finca the night of the incident. They were smoking outside of La Finca before they went inside.

The victim noted that La Finca was notoriously rowdy, by recalling that “inside the bar they were playing some music, and during that they would be breaking bottles on the bar and so that’s why there were broken bottles and they had to stop the music twice because of all the disorder that was happening there.”

After security kicked the group of people breaking bottles out of the bar, the victim remembered that he and Ibarra “went to the restroom and came back to the bar, it was empty and Gabriel got a call that there was a fight outside.”

The victim then explained that the reason why he and Ibarra ran towards the fight, instead of trying to get to safety, was because Ibarra wanted to make sure that his brother wasn’t getting into an altercation. According to the victim, he and Ibarra ran outside the bar and saw the shooter firing at the sidewalk five to seven times.

The victim stated that Ibarra tried to get the gun away from the shooter, but was then shot. He added that Ibarra “fell facedown, I ran towards him wanting to lift him up, that’s when I got shot, I turned around and started to run.”

In an effort to put the victim’s ability to recall the events of the night accurately, defense attorney Chastaine asked the victim if he had been drinking that night. He recalled that “on the day of the incident I had been drinking, I had about six to eight beers, possibly more.”

Continuing to further put his sobriety into question, Chastaine asked Ibarra if he had done cocaine that night. The victim answered, “I did, when I went to the bathroom with Gabriel, before he was shot.”

Chastain then asked the victim, “Do you typically make things up when you’re sedated?” after several discrepancies in his testimony.

The Defense highlighted several uncertainties in the use of the witness’ and victims’ testimony, including statements divulged to Deputy DeLeon which differed from those stated to the court after confirming that he remembered telling the officer the occurrences of that night.

Of these fallacious statements was a simple “no, I don’t remember that” in response to Chastaine’s question, “Do you remember telling the officer that you had seen this male at La Finca de Riviera previously and that he usually wore either black or grey boots and a burgundy or red jacket?” when the record showed he had in fact disclosed this alleged description of the shooter, to Deputy DeLeon.

Further gaps in the witness’ testimony were evident when two different versions of his own victimized shooting were told – one to Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian, and the other to defense Chastaine.

Under DDA Alex Kian’s questioning, the victim explained that after he had ran to the side of his fallen friend, Gabriel Villareal Ibarra, he was shot in the leg. When asked by the prosecution, “…and did you know the shooter?” he  proceeded to respond with “no.”

Within a 45 minute period, both testimonies were altered during the cross-examination carried out by the Defense, where the victim recalled that it was while he was running to his friend that he was shot in the buttocks.

He claimed to have no information on the shooter, as was oppositely reported by Officer DeLeon and Officer Wright who were called onto the scene that night.

The preliminary hearing will resume.

Roxanna Jarvis is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Sacramento, California.

Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.

Aishwarya Rajan is a first year Political Science Public Service major and Cognitive Science major at the University of California Davis. Her various experiences living in her hometown in Danville, California, have shaped her passions to deliver justice through a career in law.

Avalon Amaral originally from Livermore CA, is a junior at UC Davis. She is pursuing a degree in Sociology Emphisizing in Law and Society, and minoring in Psychology.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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