Robert Martinez, brother to defendant Ruben Mize, and Bianca Macias and Lucero Uribe — former girlfriends of Mize — took the stand Tuesday, testifying in the ongoing trial in the murder of Lorenzo Carachure. Mize, along with Bryan Medinilla, Ricardo Nava, and Raul Diaz are all being tried for the killing of 16-year-old Carachure, who prosecutors allege was hit in the head with a carjack by Diaz and then stabbed to death by Medinilla and Mize in 2007.
In a continuation of last week’s testimony, Martinez took the stand Tuesday morning to resume presenting his account of the events surrounding Carachure’s death. According to Martinez, his brother and their mutual friend Medinilla knocked on his window late on the night of July 16, 2007. It was at this time that Mize allegedly confessed that he had stabbed “Nemo” (Carachure), and Medinilla said that he “stabbed him up.” Medinilla spoke to him about the murder, and communicated a message that Martinez interpreted for the court as “I did this for you.” Medinilla’s desire to be in the Eastside gang had only been met with exclusion in the past, but Martinez was supposedly encouraging his fellow gang members to reconsider. At the time of the murder, Medinilla was not a member of any gang, but was later “jumped in” when Martinez convinced his peers that the young teen — 15 at the time of the assault — had “put in work,” a reference to criminal acts, especially assault.
Mize and Medinilla asked for help from Martinez in the form of a car ride to dispose of the murder weapons, Martinez said. Earlier he told the court he drove the pair to get rid of knives at Goleta Beach, but continues to deny having ever seen the weapons himself. The car, co-owned by Martinez and his girlfriend, was found with a carjack in the trunk that was shown to the court by Raul Diaz’s attorney Sam Eaton. The item in question, however, did not have blood or other revealing evidence on it, and therefore could not support a claim that it is the murder weapon.
The accessory to murder charge Martinez had been facing in this case will be dropped in exchange for his testifying and telling the truth on the stand. He is pleading guilty to attempted murder with a gang enhancement in another case, which has a maximum sentence of eight years and four months.
Next on the stand was Bianca Macias, former girlfriend of Mize. Macias stated that she received a call from Mize between 10 and 11 p.m. on the night of the crime, which she did not answer. Two days later, Mize called Macias again, this time explaining that on the night of July 16 he was out gangbanging in celebration of his release from Juvenile Hall. He allegedly instructed her to lie to the police, should she be questioned, and tell them that he was with her on the night of the homicide.
The most extensive cross-examination of the day was of Lucero Uribe, former girlfriend of Mize, and sister of Carlos Diaz who allegedly drove the group to the scene of the crime. Uribe was also close friends with Raul Diaz, with whom she attended high school.
Uribe testified that she and a group of friends, including Emilio Mora (who testified earlier in the case), Mize, Nova, Raul Diaz, and Medinilla were gathered at the Pennywise Market, a known hangout for Eastside gang members, when Mize requested that she ask her brother, Carlos Diaz, to drive them to the Westside. Wanting to please her friends, but knowing her brother would not want to be involved in the sought-after conflicts, she admittedly misled Carlos, implying to him that he would just be dropping them off briefly. Uribe expressed strong regret in her testimony and needed a brief moment to collect herself after shedding tears in response to questioning by prosecutor Hans Almgren regarding feelings of guilt. Carlos Diaz arrived at Pennywise around 10 p.m., driving a red Dodge truck, into which climbed Raul Diaz, Ricardo Nava, Ruben Mize, and Bryan Medinilla, Lucero said.
The hot topic of Uribe’s testimony was the whereabouts of Emilio Mora. According to Uribe, Mora did not join the other boys in the truck — she assured the court that he had wandered away from the area, and had been walking on and around Elizabeth Street. This statement is contrary to the story Mora told in his testimony — claiming he was at the Pennywise Market and joined the others when they headed off to the Westside looking for a fight. These contradictory accounts bring up questions about the witnesses’ credibility, and led to repetitive and often redundant questioning about Mora during Uribe’s cross-examination.
Around 10:30 p.m. Uribe and a friend ran into Mize and Medinilla as Carlos Diaz was dropping them off in an alley behind Mize’s house. The girls spoke with the pair briefly; Uribe estimated 10-15 minutes. She made note to the court that the boys were acting nervous, and that they told them they had just been in a fight with Westsiders. Uribe testified that she saw no blood on Mize or Medinilla, and that neither was carrying a weapon.
Court resumes Wednesday morning, with Carlos Diaz on the stand. Check back to independent.com/mizetrial for coverage.