Manuel and Moses Olaez Murder Trial Ongoing; Manuel Olaez Delivers Personal Testimony

By Brinda Kalita and Kevin Barragan

RIVERSIDE, CA – The jury trial of the Olaez brothers—Manuel and Moses—proceeded Monday in the Larson Justice Center for the murder of a 25-year-old man and an attempted murder of a minor in 2016.

The court began with the examination of Manuel Olaez, led by Deputy District Attorney Joshua Degonia. Manuel said he recalled there was a “beef” with another acquaintance known as Rivera during their time in juvenile hall.

The accused testified Rivera had the “beef”—however, the accused said he had no “beef.” Manuel testified being in Juvenile Hall comes with rules and regulations juveniles had to follow, and if they refused they would get punished.

One of the rules imposed on the juveniles was their shirts needed to be tucked in and the altercation between both Rivera and Olaez began because Olaez pointed out Rivera’s shirt wasn’t tucked in.

Instead, Rivera responded, “Don’t tell me what to do” and got in trouble which led to a beating from the juvenile officers.

The accused testified he had not spoken to Rivera since the altercation and they went their separate ways after their time in “Juvie” until their encounter at a Starbucks seven years later.

DDA Degonia asked what led Manuel to Starbucks that day and Manuel explained to the court he had a routine which was going for a run which led him passing by Starbucks.

Manuel testified he heard a verbal altercation with African American male that led to a fight with Rivera which caught his attention.

He recognized Rivera and went up to him asking, “Hey Rivera, you good?…. It’s me, Olaez from the halls.”  Manuel said Rivera turned to him and said, “f*** you” and said he continued to agitate the African American male.

Manuel testified Rivera pulled out a knife and was swinging it toward Manuel and the other individual. After the fight ended Manuel testified he went home which was East of the Starbucks.

After a quick recess, Manuel went back on the stand and explained the fight between Rivera and the unidentified Black man originally started due to a rumor that his girlfriend was with the accused’s brother Moses.

Manuel started telling DA Degonia about Moses’s girlfriend. He mentioned how she had lived with his brother and her kids.

Manuel then shared a story about how he ended up kicking his brother’s girlfriend out because she wanted to smoke while her kids were in the same room.

Manuel then emphasized that the girlfriend had lied about the items in his brother’s home, including the fact that there was an abundance of weapons at home.

Defense Attorney Michael Schaff started his cross-examination by asking Manuel about his previous convictions.

Manuel stated that he had previously been arrested for stealing a vehicle, but he was not convicted for it. He also had a previous misdemeanor charge for obstruction of justice.

Manuel revealed that he had been living in his grandfather’s home, and he was living with Moses, three other older brothers, and one older sister growing up.

Manuel then started talking about how in middle school, he had met kids who were a part of the Hemet Tracers, a nearby gang.

“I started hanging out with them because they had everything I liked…money and girls.” Manuel added.

Manuel also emphasized that he did not talk to his younger brother Moses about hanging out with the Hemet Tracers.

Manuel then shared the story about how he was initiated into the gang at 15 years old.  Here, Manuel admitted that he was “jumped” or assaulted by three other people.

However, Manuel admitted he did not remember many details about the actual event itself. He added it was “most likely” during the weekend, and he was helped up by some other guys whose names he did not remember in the group after getting jumped.

Manuel then cleared up the timeline of all of the aforementioned stories. He stated that Moses was around 13 and had no involvement with the gang at the time.

He also mentioned that he was 14 years old when he drew many drawings depicting the Hemet Tracers and that the drawings were found in his home in a search warrant when he was 16.

The trial is ongoing throughout this week.

About The Author

Brinda is a student at UC Riverside, pursuing a degree in History with a Law and Society emphasis. She plans to attend law school after receiving her bachelors.

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