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Shooting Trial Begins

Court: Prosecutors say driver shot passenger in another vehicle after a heated exchange. An accident, defense says.

September 18, 2002|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After a heated exchange with another driver, a Los Angeles woman followed the other vehicle in her van, shot a passenger in the head, then tried to flee the Panorama City crime scene, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Oreyda Paramo, a 39-year-old self-employed mother of two, is on trial in Van Nuys charged with attempted murder, two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and shooting into an occupied vehicle. The first-time offender could face life in prison.

Her attorney, Ronald White, said the shooting was accidental.

Prosecutors disagree. Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Bronstein told jurors in his opening statement that on Jan. 19 Paramo was blocking an eastbound lane of Parthenia Street with her van, when Emma Rodriguez of Pacoima tried to pass in her car.

Rodriguez stopped and yelled at Paramo to move her car, Bronstein said. Paramo, whose 11-year-old son was in the back seat, responded, "Or what?"

Paramo allegedly pointed a 9-millimeter handgun at Rodriguez's car and Rodriguez sped away, the prosecutor said.

According to Bronstein, Paramo followed Rodriguez and fired a single shot into the right passenger windshield, hitting Rodriguez's brother, Edwin Saltorrez, 37, of New York, in the head. The bullet pierced Saltorrez's skin and landed in the lap of Rodriguez's 10-year-old son, Joseph Slack, who was not injured, Bronstein said.

Although Saltorrez had been shot, he did not realize it immediately and his sister followed Paramo's vehicle until she got the attention of police, Bronstein said.

A Los Angeles police officer saw the pursuit and followed until he could stop both vehicles to investigate. The officer noticed the bullet hole in Rodriguez's windshield, saw that Saltorrez had been shot and found a shell casing on the floorboard of Paramo's vehicle, Bronstein said. Saltorrez was transported by paramedics to a hospital, where he was treated for a minor head wound.

Paramo, who was arrested at the scene, has been held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $500,000 bail.

But White said in his opening statement that Rodriguez and her passengers waited for Paramo a block away and threatened her with violence. He said a defense witness would testify that he saw Saltorrez with a gun, then heard the shot fired.

He said Paramo's fiance, a Los Angeles firefighter, had planned to go to a firing range that day but didn't. He left his handgun, which he told Paramo was not loaded, on the floorboard of the van, which Paramo drove later that day.

After Paramo's confrontation with Rodriguez, "she grabbed the firearm, figuring, 'I'm going to scare those people,' " White said.

She allegedly saw Saltorrez with a gun and when Rodriguez drove toward her, Paramo picked up the weapon, the defense lawyer said.

Trial is set to continue today.

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