As trial in 2009 double killing continues, witnesses describe fear of retaliation
on December 14, 2012
The trial for a 2009 double homicide at Alvarado Bar and Grill continued Thursday in Martinez with testimonies from witnesses who described a common theme of fear of retaliation when cooperating with police.
Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari brought three witnesses before the jury to give an account of what they saw Aug. 30, when DeFerrari says two men affiliated with the Sureño gang entered the restaurant around 7 p.m. and shot and killed two men affiliated with the rival Norteño gang.
The two men on trial— Steven Miranda and Ignacio Ruiz— are facing murder charges for their involvement with the shooting, even though they were not the shooters. DeFerrari says they played a part in the killings through their gang affiliation and assistance on the day of the shooting.
“The whole incident happened very quickly,” said an employee who was working that day. She said it didn’t take long for the gunman to pull the gun from his side and begin shooting.
“It wasn’t a long pull to pull it up,” she said. “It was a pretty big gun.”
The employee said the grill wasn’t turf to either Norteños or Sureños. She said she served customers from both gangs.
She said when she was a part of a gang as a child, the turf war consisted of throwing water balloons, which Public Defender Rebecca Brackman called a much more “benign” association.
DeFerrari asked the employee to recall the reason she gave for why she initially didn’t want to talk to police about the shooting.
“Were you supposed to tell the police what was going on?” DeFerrari asked.
“No,” she said.
DeFerrari asked why not.
“Snitches get stitches,” she said. If you did snitch, “you get your butt whooped or you get killed,” she said.
The next witness to testify was working at a business nearby. He said he saw two men wearing blue bandanas—a color associated with the Sureños—walk past his store twice on the day of the shooting.
He said he didn’t pay much attention to them the first time, but after hearing four or five shots in succession, he saw them running and noticed one of them holding what looked like a “home-made shotgun.”
The trial will continue through next week, take a two-week break for the holiday, and resume Jan. 7.
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