Matt Potter 7:30 a.m., March 12
Prosecutor: Trial Begins Though Stabber is Missing
A prosecutor told the jury that the man on trial for murder “almost certainly” did not stab the victim to death, but rather it was probably his companion Pedro Avalos who actually knifed the victim.
Pedro Avalos, 23, is named on the same criminal complaint and is also charged with murder, but he is not in the courtroom with the lone defendant. A jury trial began this week for Juan Alberto Rocha, 21, who was taken into custody four days after the stabbing, while Avalos remains a fugitive.
Prosecutor Geoff Allard said both men are part of an Hispanic street gang in Carlsbad, and that gang has an “ugly motive” of “ethnic cleansing.” The prosecutor alleges that when Rocha and Avalos approached some black men leaving a neighborhood bar it was part of the gang’s efforts to “drive out African Americans from the neighborhood.”
It was after 10 p.m. on a Friday night when Juan Alberto Rocha called out a gang challenge, and then his companion made a single jab to the abdomen of Devin Allen, 27, the prosecutor alleges. The wounded man was flown to Palomar Medical Center, but declared dead the same night, March 25, 2011.
Public defender Patrick McCoy said “my client admits that he was there” but Juan Rocha only made “an exchange of words” with the victim. The defense attorney told the jury, “It’s about being responsible for one’s own actions.”