COURT WATCH: Gonzalez Murder Retrial Proceeds with New Witness, and Original Trial Testimony of Impeached Witnesses Read to Jury

By Kristin Trent

WOODLAND, CA – The Justin Gonzalez jury retrial reconvened here in Yolo County Superior Court Wednesday, and focused on one live witness, a police report and the reading of previous trial testimony from two witnesses—Christian Hernandez and Marco Aguiniga, who identified only one person other than Ronald Antonio at the time of his murder.

Gonzalez and Alexis Velasquez were convicted for the murder of Antonio in 2016. Gonzalez was convicted for second degree murder for allegedly holding down Antonio while he was killed and is currently undergoing a retrial as a result of new California legislation regarding murder charges.

Judge Samuel McAdams allowed the original testimony of Hernandez to be read after his testimony was impeached earlier in this retrial.

The Hernandez transcript, as read, contained examinations from three lawyers in the original trial.

At the time of the murder, Hernandez was living at Casa Del Sol where he was parked in a car outside his house. Christian Ventura and Adrian Hernandez were with him, “hanging around” on the evening of the attack.

When asked by the defense attorney, “What caught your attention that night?” Hernandez answered, “I saw a guy chasing another guy, one fell and got up.

“I remember going over there seeing a trail of blood and a body,” added Hernandez, who identified Antonio as the body. Hernandez believed he heard Antonio fall and the words, “No, don’t; no, don’t do it.”

When Hernandez approached the scene, he saw a man with shoulder length hair take something out from his waist and he observed what “looked like a stabbing motion.”

Hernandez, according to that earlier trial testimony transcript, was unable to identify the murderer from the six photographs presented to him, and noted two people with similar shoulder length hair.

In Aguiniga’s testimony, also read to the court, Aguiniga reported he was walking his dog while skateboarding and wearing headphones at the time of the murder. He admitted to being “heavily medicated from smoking marijuana” that evening and having a switchblade on his person.

When Aguiniga was confronted by two males who asked him to identify himself and where he was from, he testified he kept going and told them, “I don’t want any problems,” but “they kept on pushing the issue.”

Aguiniga, who was wearing his blue work uniform reflecting the colors of the Sureño gang, said he believed the two confronting him were affiliated with the Norteños, a rival gang. He testified he believed the interaction would escalate. He also admitted to taking his knife out of his pocket and unsheathing the blade.

However, during cross-examination, Aguiniga agreed that it could be possible that the questioning from the two men was not gang affiliated.

Officer Aaron Moe also testified about his original interview with Cynthia Tello at the Woodland Police Station. Tello’s testimony was impeached last Wednesday.

The interview took place the morning after the murder, and Moe said during the interview that he smelled alcohol on Tello’s breath, although Tello claimed she had not been drinking.

According to Moe’s interview, Tello said she had been with her cousin Vanessa Ramos and friends Justin Gonzalez and Alexis “Oso” Velasquez, who had been drinking since 5:30 p.m. the night of the crime. At some point in the evening, Tello claimed a “white girl” knocked on the door, which prompted Ramos and Velasquez to go outside.

When Tello could not see Ramos from inside the trailer, she got in her white van to search for her. When she saw Ramos running toward her, she turned around and parked. Once Tello returned to the trailer, everyone was there. And, after asking what happened, Tello was told, “Be quiet, cops are coming.”

Tello additionally testified Velazquez and Gonzalez changed clothes while in the trailer but she did not ask them why.

Also Wednesday, Pedro Muñoz testified. He was walking with Antonio  (“Tony”) that night to Kenny’s Bar.

When questioned by Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, Muñoz recalled a woman approaching them from her car as they were walking, asking for one of their shirts to bandage her wounded hand. “I guess one of the girls was hurt and they were trying to blame us,” he said.

Muñoz walked home after the incident, saying he froze and did not know what else to do. Reflecting on the night, Muñoz said, “The ambulance took too long…It still affects me to this date, after all these years.”

Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson asked Muñoz why he walked away from his friend, and Muñoz answered, “I didn’t want to have any problems.”

This trial is ongoing.

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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