– The prosecutor and defense attorneys in the drive-by shooting
trial of Israel Enrique Hernandez and Juan Hernandez called several
rebuttal witnesses Friday morning, before working out jury
instructions with Superior Court Judge Hugh F. Mullin.
By Lori Stuenkel
Gilroy – The prosecutor and defense attorneys in the drive-by shooting trial of Israel Enrique Hernandez and Juan Hernandez called several rebuttal witnesses Friday morning, before working out jury instructions with Superior Court Judge Hugh F. Mullin.
The two men charged with attempted murder, firing into an occupied vehicle, and committing a crime to benefit a street gang face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Juan Hernandez, 23, is suspected of driving the car used in the shooting after a morning attending church and drinking beer at Enrique Hernandez’s apartment. Enrique Hernandez, 20, has admitted to firing four bullets as they drove past a rival on Church Street. He testified he fired into the air to scare the man, although the bullets lodged in three separate houses along the street.
Gilroy Police officer Pedro Espinoza testified Friday that when he photographed the houses while standing in the street – which slightly peaks in the middle – the bullet holes would have appeared about waist level.
Espinoza returned to the scene to take more photographs on Thursday, which were entered into evidence. Some of those showed Church Street south of where the shooting took place, in the direction the defendants were driving.
According to Enrique Hernandez’s testimony, the car in which he was riding slowed but did not stop – as though it were approaching a stop sign – just before he fired the gun out the window. Deputy District Attorney Stuart Scott suggested Wednesday that the car slowed so Enrique Hernandez could shoot at the passing vehicle, not for the stop sign. Espinoza said he measured the distance from the scene to the stop sign as one-tenth of a mile.
Juan Hernandez, who testified earlier that he was not driving or even in the car the day of the shooting, reiterated Friday that he did not see the car after the time of the shooting, even though it was impounded from the parking lot where he was sitting and drinking beers. He testified that he was sitting in the carport of Enrique Hernandez’s apartment building with a friend when Enrique Hernandez and another friend walked up to him following what Juan Hernandez thought was another trip to the liquor store. He has testified that police officers arrived 15 minutes later, spoke to them, and impounded the car, which was parked in the rear of the building’s L-shaped lot.
Officer Espinoza testified Friday that there was no way the car could have entered the lot without driving past the entire apartment building.
“I didn’t pay attention,” Juan Hernandez testified, explaining how he might not have seen the car.
Another officer testified that the owner of the liquor store the friends visited on the day of the shooting identified the two defendants and a friend the following day. Although Juan Hernandez testified on Wednesday that he did not go along on the second beer run to the liquor store, the store’s owner said he was there, Officer Geoff Guerin testified.
After the shooting, Juan Hernandez, Enrique Hernandez and their friend are accused of chasing the rival’s car at high speeds through town before they came under fire themselves near Wayland Lane and Sherwood Drive. Later that day, Sureño gang members again came under attack on U.S. 101 near Highway 25, when two cars carrying Norteño gang members apparently boxed in a third and fired upon it, injuring the driver.
The Norteño gang members who also were involved in the shootings that day are expected to go on trial later this month.
Enrique Hernandez’s younger brother briefly took the stand Friday, and testified about a gang-related drawing police officers photographed when searching the room the brothers shared. The brother said he copied the drawing from a magazine, but denied he was in a gang.
Ric Squaglia, Enrique Hernandez’s lawyer, briefly re-called Officer Espinoza to explain what he told the defendant about the whether he would or would not be arrested if he cooperated.
“I told him there was a possibility he could be charged with a crime,” Espinoza said, adding that he also told Hernandez he had spoken with a district attorney. “I told him he would not be arrested right now, as he continued to give us his cooperation.”
The trial is expected to conclude Monday afternoon with closing arguments.