Before shooting 13-year-old Gabriel Soto to death in May in a one-sided version of Russian roulette, a Valencia teen-ager loaded a revolver with five cartridges, then mocked another boy who was afraid of having the gun pointed at him, the boy testified Tuesday.
Aaron Schwartz, 15, who witnessed the killing, testified at the trial of the 14-year-old Valencia youth, not identified because of his age, who was charged with second-degree murder in Soto's death.
Schwartz said the youth pointed the gun at Soto's head from about four feet away, said "See, Gabriel isn't afraid" and pulled the trigger, killing Soto.
In opening arguments, Deputy Dist. Atty. Chesley McKay told Sylmar Juvenile Court Judge Morton Rochman that the youth should be convicted of second-degree murder because he knew that pulling the trigger was dangerous.
Deputy Public Defender Edward Van Gelder argued that the youth should be convicted of manslaughter because he did not mean to kill Soto.
Schwartz said the three boys were at the defendant's family's apartment. Schwartz said he got out the defendant's father's revolver, which he had seen on a prior visit, to show to Soto.
Schwartz said the defendant began threatening him and Soto, pointing the gun--loaded with one cartridge--at them and pulling the trigger.
When Van Gelder asked if Schwartz believed that the shooting was an accident, the teen-ager said: "It looked like an accident to me."
But Schwartz added that at one point he was so afraid of being shot that he ran out of the apartment. But, he said, he returned and saw the defendant load four more cartridges into the revolver before firing the fatal shot.
Schwartz said he recalled the youth bragging that on another occasion he had used the gun to frighten another playmate, Benjamin Brady, so badly that the boy fainted.
Brady, 14, of Valencia, also testified.
He said he and the defendant began wrestling over who would sit in a favored chair at the defendant's apartment. The youth pinned Brady to the ground, held a gun--loaded with one cartridge--to his head and pulled the trigger five times, asking each time if Brady was scared, the boy testified.
"He started laughing, and he put the gun away," Brady said. "He was laughing at me because he thought I really fainted."