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Matt Potter 3:30 p.m., Sept. 28
“This was an accident. You know that, because Ruben said that at the time. All the witnesses there agree, yep, that’s what he said. It was an accident, didn’t mean to do it.”
The attorney for defendant Ruben Anthony Cepeda, who is charged with two counts of murder, admitted that the defendant pulled the trigger, but said the prosecutor is wrong. “They want to make something more out of this,” public defender Michael Washington told a California jury yesterday, August 22, 2013.
The defender suggests that the prosecutor strains to find a motive for the shooting. “Because she was pregnant, and that was going to somehow cramp his style? No, that’s not the reason,” attorney Washington asserted.
“We know that Ruben and Viri were in love,” the defense attorney said. “He was excited about the fact that Viri was pregnant.” Cepeda is accused of putting a gun to the belly of his pregnant, 18-year-old girlfriend named Viridiana Rodriguez.
Ruben Cepeda and four other people were in his new apartment in Escondido, about 7 p.m. the evening of April 7, 2012. Cepeda and his best friend Jesse were moving into their new place; girlfriend Viri and her two sisters were also there. At some point, Cepeda brought out a gun.
“There’s some people that don’t like Ruben,” defense attorney Washington explained. Ruben Cepeda has been assaulted in past, the attorney said. “And so there’s a lot of times where, he travels what the kids called ‘strapped.’ He’s got his gun with him for protection. And so he’s going to grab his gun that night.” The attorney said young Ruben Cepeda, then 21, wanted to “check” his black, semi-automatic handgun. “Popped the magazine out, made sure there were rounds in it. Popped it back in. And then he did something careless – put his finger inside the trigger guard, as he was moving with the gun.”
“A single shot came out of that gun into Ruben’s girlfriend.” Ruben Cepeda and girlfriend Viri were alone in a room when the shot was fired, and then the others rushed in. “And everybody there was shocked.”
Attorney Washington confirmed what witnesses have said they heard Viri say to Ruben. “She couldn’t believe it. ‘You shot me!’” And witnesses heard Ruben reply. “And he said, ‘It’s an accident, baby!’”
“There had been no argument, there had been no quarrel,” the defense attorney told the jury. “And then he does something that we’ve seen a lot of times in life. He panics.”
“He leaves. He doesn’t take the gun.” A witness said she saw Jesse take off his shirt, wrap it around a black gun that was lying on the floor, and take it with him when he left.
The defense attorney asserted that the Ruben Cepeda did not know that his friend Jesse took the gun, or that Jesse left the apartment. “We know that they didn’t leave together, because there’s phone records.” But the two did connect, soon. “And Jesse comes back and picks him up.” (Jesse was charged as an accessory.) “And Jesse ends up driving him as far away as he can, drives him down to the border.”
Mexican authorities captured Ruben Anthony Cepeda two months later, in June 2012.
Cepeda is now charged with two murders for the deaths of 18-year-old Viridiana Rodriguez and her four-month-old fetus. Attorneys gave opening statements before jurors yesterday, August 22, 2013. Trial will resume Monday morning, August 26, before the Honorable Judge Harry Elias, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.