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Ventura County

Man, 21, to Stand Trial in Slaying

The El Rio resident is accused of shooting a teen in alleged attempt to steal a car stereo.

November 01, 2002|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

A judge Thursday ordered an El Rio man to stand trial in the fatal shooting of a Rio Mesa High School football player nearly three years ago.

Following a preliminary hearing, Marcus Moralez, 21, was held to answer charges of murder, perjury and gang and weapons violations stemming from the December 1999 shooting of Frank Miramontez, 17, who was sitting in his car near his home.

Superior Court Judge Roland Purnell made the ruling after another man, Jorge Navarro, testified that he was in the car with both Moralez and Miramontez when the fatal shots were fired.

Navarro, who last week refused to testify without his lawyer present, did not directly implicate Moralez. But he said he was sitting in the passenger seat, alongside Miramontez, when the shots rang out.

Moralez and another passenger were riding in the back seat, Navarro said.

"I remember looking at him--he was saying he was hurt," Navarro said of Miramontez. "I jumped out of the car. When I jumped out of the car is when I heard some more shots."

Prosecutors allege that Moralez shot Miramontez six times in an attempt to steal a car stereo. An expert testified last week that the shots were fired at close range and likely came from the right rear passenger seat, where Moralez was sitting.

During cross examination, defense attorney Willard Wiksell suggested that it could have been the other back seat passenger, and not Moralez, who fired the shots.

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