Testimony began on July 17 in a trial for a man who admits being a street hood for the Varrio Fallbrook Locos gang.
Some witnesses have been so fearful that they suffered almost complete memory loss; others have shown courage. Testimony is expected to continue until at least July 28.
Sergio Huerta Ramirez, 20, pleads not guilty to attempted murder in connection with a shooting incident that happened in De Luz, a rugged rural community in the northernmost part of San Diego County, in January of 2013.
Prosecutor Cal Logan has presented evidence suggesting that Ramirez tricked his old friend and fellow gang member into giving him a ride somewhere before shooting his homie as he sat behind the wheel. The victim tried to drive himself to hospital but crashed his truck; he was then helped by passersby.
The victim, who still carries three bullets in his body, told the jury that he became a target after he tried to withdraw from the gang. He now lives in protective custody in an undisclosed location outside of San Diego County.
Sheriff’s deputy Bill Yavno said he came upon the victim at Fallbrook Hospital while he was delirious with pain, and when the deputy asked who shot him, the victim responded, “Sergio Ramirez.” When asked why, the victim reportedly stated, “Because I want out of the life.”
One witness stated that he received a warning letter from someone in prison regarding his possible decision to testify. “I could have just ran,” he said in court. “But I’m not going to stick up for evil no more.”
In her cross-examination, defense attorney Pamela Lacher seemed to mock the man’s fear of retribution. “Things are going to happen to me, I know they are,” the witness responded. When his credibility was challenged, he admitted that he has had drug problems in past. “Since I been trying to change my life,” he testified, “I didn’t want anything to do with evil. So I’m going against it.”
This trial will continue Thursday, July 24, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.