Two civilian witnesses were called to the stand at Santa Barbara Superior Court yesterday by prosecutor Hilary Dozer during the trial of Ricardo Juarez. They told their versions of the March 2007 fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares for which Juarez is being tried. Testimony included presentation of pictures of suspects, bloody clothing, and gang paraphernalia affiliated with the incident.
The first of the two witnesses - both attorneys who observed parts of the incident from their second-floor law firm offices on the 100 block of West Carrillo Street - was Steven M. Holden. He testified that while he didn’t think he had witnessed the stabbing, he did recall seeing a young boy (later identified as Linares) lying in a planter, being kicked in the face by another juvenile, who he described as approximately six feet tall, with a wiry build.
Holden said that after viewing the kicking, he observed the boy in the planter trying to get up but being unable to do so. Holden then rushed to call 911 - but when emergency workers failed to respond immediately, he ran down the stairs of his office building hoping to find someone who could help. “There were a lot of girls screaming in the parking lot,” he said.
After police finally arrived on the scene, Holden said he gave his business card to an emergency worker in case he could be of any help later, but then moved the incident to the back of his mind. “I didn’t think much about the whole thing until I learned there was a fatality,” Holden said.
The second witness to take the stand, attorney Robert Curtis, testified that he’d observed a bit more than just a boy being kicked from the balcony of his office on 15 West Carrillo Street. Curtis testified that the boy started to convulse after another boy made a “throwing,” or stabbing, motion toward the boy in the planter.
“The first thing that drew my attention was the noise,” Curtis said. “When I looked out [onto the Saks Fifth Avenue parking lot] I saw a semi-circle of individuals standing around one individual in a planter, who was being kicked in the face by the four or five people in the semi-circle.”
“At some point,” Curtis continued, “I saw the boy [in the planter] start to convulse, and I immediately thought that the boy needed help.” Curtis then ran down the stairs of his office building, only to observe the “gentleman” who had kicked the boy run from the scene of the crime across Carrillo toward State Street.
Curtis described the “kicker” assailant as being 15 or 16 years old, 5‘8” or 5‘9”, Hispanic, with a “long torso and short legs,” and wearing a black or dark green T-shirt.
After the “kicker” ran off, Curtis said he also observed a boy in a white Y-shirt making an overhand “throwing” motion toward Linares, a statement that Dozer tried to connect with the stabbing incident.
After the two witnesses were excused by Judge Brian Hill, several police officers were called to the witness stand and shown photographs of evidence from the crime scene.
Among the photos were headshots of at least six suspected perpetrators, a picture of Juarez among them. Another series of photographs depicted a CD case in the interior of an unidentified Eastside gang member’s car, with homemade discs labeled “Eastside,” “EST X3,” and one labeled “Gangster Ass Shit.” Photographs of Linares’s bloodied clothing were also shown.