Nathan Keezer took the stand Monday to testify as an eyewitness of the alleged murder of 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure that occurred in July 2007. On trial for the death and assault of Carachure are Ruben Mize, Bryan Medinilla, Raul Diaz, and Ricardo Nava.
Keezer said he saw the incident play out from the roof of his home on San Pascual Street, approximately 50 feet away from the scene of the crime. Keezer said that he has never had any gang involvement, and has no relationship with anyone connected to the incident. The sound of glass bottles being thrown attracted his attention on the night of the 16th, leading him to look over the edge of the roof and witness a group of about a dozen young-adult males running west on San Pascual, claimed Keezer. The group seemed to be “running with intention,” Keezer alleged, almost like they were stampeding through, taking breaks for little scuffles before moving on.
According to Keezer, seven to 10 people wore dark shirts, and four to seven wore white shirts, and for the most part everyone had something to fight with. It appeared as though all of the dark-shirted participants had weapons, while only some of those in white shirts were armed, said Keezer, but stated that he wasn’t certain. The majority of people were allegedly carrying wooden stick-like weapons that looked like something the boys had found. Those in the scuffles had “sloppy fighting,” Keezer described, “it kind of looked like elementary school fighting.”
At the tail end of the moving mass of people was a lone biker, suspected to be Lorenzo Carachure, who seemed to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” Keezer said. “The mass ran through and he was kind of what was left behind,” explained Keezer. “He didn’t even seem like he belonged there, except he was wearing a white shirt.” Keezer testified that the person was moving slowly, as though he was trying to pedal; “it looked like the bike was in high gear and he just couldn’t get going.” Before he fell behind the group, he was allegedly with someone else wearing a white shirt, who eventually ran away without him.
Two dark-shirted boys allegedly came up behind the person on the bike, one of them hitting him over the head with either their fists, hands clasped together, or with some weapon. Keezer said that he believed the weapon, if there was one, to be something that was not heavy because when he heard it hit the ground it sounded light — he suggested possibly something wooden. The victim fell from his bike after being struck on his head, and was allegedly “pinned down by the bike before he was pinned down by a person,” said Keezer.
Two boys were standing next to the boy on the ground, Keezer testified, before one of them crouched down and began to strike him while the other stood about a foot away. Keezer told the court that he saw a knife, which was about four inches long, as the boy attacking the victim stabbed him twice in the neck and throat, and three times in his body. Roughly three people from the group had run toward the Guadalajara Market, but another group had stopped and turned to watch the stabbing, Keezer claimed. The onlookers were allegedly crying out, “Stab him,” and “Kill him,” but no one joined in with the boy who was doing the stabbing. The tone of those on the sidelines sounded like “Look, he’s got one; let’s cheer him on,” said Keezer, as though they were letting him have the victim — who Keezer believed to be unarmed.
Following the attack, the group left on foot toward De la Guerra Street, without stabbing anyone else, said Keezer. Once alone, the victim showed very little movement, Keezer claimed, “maybe he got more into the fetal position — a curl up.” There were also four boys in white shirts who left on West Ortega at some point during the incident — which Keezer estimated to be 30 seconds to one-and-a-half minutes long. There was also allegedly a maroon/burgundy SUV at the scene, parked in the middle of the street with its lights on some time during the incident. Keezer recalls it speeding away, but never saw anyone get in it. Despite witnessing close to the entirety of the fight, Keezer could not identify any of the assailants or victims, due to the darkness in the street and his distance from the fight.
Once the ambulance was there, a couple of people allegedly returned to the scene. The first person to return was standing over the officer as he tried to stop the victim’s bleeding, said Keezer, and the second came back with an injured leg; it seemed as though he was looking for some medical treatment. According to Keezer, the boy with the wounded leg stood off to the side of the victim, staring and just looking at what was happening.
Before Keezer took the stand, two people testified about a separate attack in January 2008, in which the victim was stabbed 19 times while walking on San Pascual Street. Mize, who was captured on a tape played earlier in the trial telling his cousin about the stabbing, is facing an attempted murder charge for that attack. Prospero Sotelo, the victim of the stabbing, testified briefly, but was not able to provide information about the number of attackers or their identities. He was 17 at the time of the incident, and was walking to his girlfriend’s home around 11 p.m. when an unknown number of people allegedly ran up to him, stabbed him, and knocked him out. Sotelo told the court he had tried to defend himself by swinging a bottle of Corona that he had been drinking, but it slipped out of his hand.
Minerva Moreno, Sotelo’s girlfriend at the time of the incident, took the stand to provide some additional details about the night of the stabbing. She allegedly received a text message some time around 11 p.m. from Sotelo, saying he was almost there. Soon after she got a phone call saying that he had been jumped, said Moreno, who thought it was a joke but went outside to check anyway. Moreno told the court that she found her boyfriend outside, who wanted her to take him home. Minerva wept as she continued to testify about Sotelo’s specific injuries.
She had taken him inside to ice his face, and it wasn’t until she took off his black Raiders sweatshirt that she saw his white shirt was “full of blood and holes,” said Moreno. He had been stabbed in the face, legs, back, and chest, she said. Moreno called her father to drive Sotelo to the hospital because she was pregnant and couldn’t.
Moreno testified that her boyfriend told her after the incident that he believed it was a group of five Eastsiders who had attacked him — but Sotelo would not testify to this fact. He also allegedly said that he saw a blue Volkswagen driving away, but would not testify to that either. Sotelo spent three days in the hospital, and was on bed rest for two weeks.