The death of an aspiring rapper at a memorial barbecue in Turlock may have been sparked by another rapper’s song insulting the wife of a gang member, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office as they laid out their case against two men on trial for murder.
Raymond “Raymo” Gutierrez, 31, and Alvaro “Tito” Saldana, 26, are facing first-degree murder charges with gang enhancements in the death of 26-year-old Roger Villanueva on May 25, 2008.
Villanueva was shot to death in the backyard of an Angelus Street home during a memorial barbecue to Moses Rodriguez, who was murdered in Turlock in 2006.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Brennan said in his opening statement to the jury that the prosecution’s case against the two men will focus on six important dates, the first of which is March 23, 2008 — the wedding of Eloisa and Thomas Gonzalez. It was at this wedding reception in Hilmar that Brennan said a man with the rap name of “Bullet G” performed a rap song with lyrics that insulted the wife of a Norteno gang member, insinuating she was unfaithful while her husband was in prison.
The prosecution contends this rap song incited a fight that turned into a melee of wedding guests and attendants, including the victim and the two accused.
Brennan said the prosecution will show evidence that this fight stewed bad feelings between the men that later erupted at the Turlock barbecue and claimed Villanueva’s life.
The sole witness on Monday was Eloisa Gonzalez who was a witness to the fight at the wedding and was at the barbecue where the shooting occurred. She was one of the first people to run to Villanueva’s aid when the gunshots rang out.
Gonzalez testified that as soon as she saw Gutierrez and Saldana at the barbecue she had an uneasy and anxious feeling about their presence and she desperately tried to stop Villanueva from going into the backyard with Saldana.
In her testimony Gonzalez said she watched as Saldana and Villanueva walked into the backyard of an abandoned residence. She also said she saw Gutierrez run to the backyard and then heard multiple gunshots ring out.
As she ran toward her friend she said she was passed by Saldana and Gutierrez, who left the area immediately afterwards.
In halted words, Gonzalez described her horror at seeing Villanueva on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. The graphic photo of the crime scene caused Villanueva’s mother to leave the courtroom momentarily.
The day’s proceeding ended as the defense was getting underway with their questioning. The trial is scheduled to resume today in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
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