A jury began hearing evidence in the trial of two men accused of killing a woman to end her loud “drama,” in San Diego’s North County courthouse today, May 12.
The 20-year-old woman who was killed was an “addict” who “would do whatever she needed to do, to get free drugs,” according to prosecutor Jodi Breton. The victim purportedly accused one man of rape, which started a series of confrontations between an assortment of meth addicts, criminals, and passersby on the last day of January 2012.
“Destin Withers believed that Denise was wronged and was trying to help her,” said defense attorney Jeff Reichert.
The defense attorney told the jury that Withers, 38, was driving that night and had no idea that the man in the front passenger seat, Jeff McCreary, 44, would turn and shoot four 9mm bullets into the woman riding in back on the early morning of February 1, 2012.
The body of Morayma Denise Rodriguez was found that afternoon, dumped at the side of a dead-end road in a rural part of Escondido. Boot prints in the dirt near the body matched boots belonging to McCreary, the prosecutor said.
The jury heard a recorded phone call between Withers and McCreary. Withers was picked up by police first, and his conversation with McCreary seemed to confirm that McCreary was the shooter.
The alleged murder weapon was found in the car McCreary was driving, and his DNA was on the 9mm pistol, the prosecutor said.
The doomed woman was turning away, reaching for the door and trying to get out of the car when she was shot to death, prosecutor Breton told the jury. The prosecutor displayed photos of crime-scene reenactments, using the impounded Mercedes with bullet holes, to illustrate her version of events.
Both defendants plead not guilty to first-degree murder. The prosecutor has stated that both men are responsible, that they “aided and abetted” each other in the killing.