Witnesses testified at the opening of a reputed Oxnard gang member's murder trial Wednesday that the youth killed a rival gang member who taunted, "Go ahead, shoot me."
Arnel Salagubang, an alleged member of an Oxnard-based Filipino gang known as the Satanas, is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 22 shooting of Manuel (Deadeye) Rodriguez, who belonged to the Oxnard Latino gang Lemonwood Chiques. Both were 20 at the time.
Salagubang's trial was surrounded by heavy security and punctuated by halting, reluctant testimony from gang members.
Sheriff's deputies frisked spectators with metal detectors before allowing them into the small courtroom, where the front rows between Salagubang and the audience were roped off.
And the day's two major witnesses, admitted Satanas members David Rojas and Joffrey Lagadia, spent most of their time on the stand giving one-word answers in nearly inaudible voices while staring at the floor.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday May 11, 1990 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 5 Column 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong age--The Times incorrectly reported the age of Casiana Hollers Thursday in an article about the murder trial of alleged Oxnard gang member Arnel Salagubang. Hollers is 18.
Rojas testified that Rodriguez cruised past him and eight friends in front of Channel Islands High School at 3 p.m. that day as school let out and shouted, "Chiques!" Rojas testified that Rodriguez then pulled his blue Honda alongside Salagubang's customized Datsun 280ZX and began arguing with Salagubang. Salagubang "got mad and was losing it," Rojas testified.
Rojas testified that when Rodriguez reached under his car seat, Salagubang went back to the Datsun and got a single-shot .22-caliber derringer from Jesse Cortinas, a Satanas member.
Salagubang then walked back to Rodriguez's car and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not go off, Rojas said. "He looked at it," then cocked the gun, while Rodriguez taunted, "shoot me," Rojas testified.
Rojas said Salagubang shot Rodriguez, then got back in his car and drove off. Rojas said he was in a group of fellow Satanas in a Toyota pickup truck that followed the car from the scene and picked up Cortinas while Salagubang drove off alone.
The truck was driven by Joffrey Lagadia, who testified Wednesday that someone later identified as Rodriguez had been yelling "gang things" such as "Chiques!"
Shouting your gang name at a rival gang "is a challenge to fight," Lagadia told jurors.
Lagadia also testified that someone got out of the car in front of his truck and began arguing with Rodriguez, who said, "Go ahead, shoot me." Salagubang then fired the gun and fled in his car, Lagadia testified.
Jurors also heard testimony from Casiana Hollers, 16, the mother of Rodriguez's child, who testified that he left home that day at 12:30 p.m. promising to return.
Deputy Dist. Atty. James Ellison showed her a photograph of Rodriguez clad in blue sweat shirt and a black baseball cap bearing the word "Chiques" and asked her if she recognized it as her boyfriend.
"Yes," Hollers replied.
"Is that the colors of the Chiques?" Ellison asked.
"No," she said, starting to cry. "There is no colors."
Ellison's opening statement characterized the shooting as "the twisted mentality of gangs and the senseless acts they're engaged in to show their machismo."
Ellison told jurors that Jesse Cortinas has agreed to plead guilty to murder charges as a juvenile and testify against Salagubang to avoid being tried as an adult. Cortinas is expected to take the stand today.