Several eyewitnesses to the death of Lorenzo Carachure in July 2007 on the Westside streets of Santa Barbara testified Tuesday, though none were able to identify any defendants on trial for the murder.
The day began with a continuation of Nathan Keezer’s testimony from the day prior. He said that during the incident, after having seen what he could from his roof, he got down and went inside to get his phone. When he came back out, he heard voices saying things like, “Did you get him?” and “What happened?” He said he saw a kid on a bicycle and two people come at him from behind. According to Keezer, the two people knocked him over on his bike.
Next on the stand was Noe Carachure, one of the victims of the attack that night on San Pascual Street, but few questions were asked of him. A recording of an interview between him and prosecutor Hans Almgren that took place April 19 was played for the court.
In the recorded interview, Carachure first describes an incident on July 14 with him, his cousin Lorenzo Carachure, and Rogelio Hernandez involved in a fight against three members of the “Krazies,” an Eastside gang. The Carachures and Hernandez won the fight, in Noe Carachure’s opinion.
Much of the recording was a repeat of Noe Carachure’s testimony from his time on the stand on Thursday, June 3. According to Carachure on the recording, when they were approached by Eastside gang members the night of the murder, they didn’t run away, but they didn’t have any weapons.
He said he recognized one of the men wearing a hat as the same man he fought a few days earlier. However, this time, he said the man had a knife with a 10-inch blade. Carachure said he was stabbed but didn’t feel anything immediately. He knocked his opponent down and saw Hernandez about 10 feet away, fighting about three or four people. He told Almgren that one of these people had a curling iron, one had a bat, and one had a knife. He also described his cousin Lorenzo Carachure nearby on the ground and referred to the men surrounding him as “vultures when they see meat.” He said all four men were stabbing his cousin in the head, neck, and torso.
In the recorded interview, he was unable to identify the men as the same men from a few days earlier, saying they were “just shadows.” After these men stabbed his cousin, a new car — what he called a white Honda — pulled up and a few people ran into that vehicle, and others ran to the burgundy truck.
Later Tuesday, Angela Corral, a resident near Ortega and San Pascual streets at the time of the incident, testified. She described that night, closing her eyes several times to recall the past. She described hearing glass breaking, how she went inside to call 911, and hearing things being shouted outside her house. She saw some people chasing a truck and yelling, “Carlos, wait up,” and after losing sight of them, focused on the victim who lay bleeding near the end of her driveway. She said he was bleeding from the neck and there were several people gathering around even before an ambulance arrived not long after. Neither the victim on the ground nor the other man sitting near the end of her driveway said anything.
Ranferi Gutierrez was the next person to testify through the help of an interpreter. Gutierrez is the uncle of Noe Carachure, but he is not a blood relation of Lorenzo Carachure’s. He said he had been riding his bicycle at the 700 block of San Pascual Street when he saw three men, one of them pushing a bike. At the time he didn’t realize that one of the men was his nephew. He said he saw a truck pull up and he was asked by the passengers, “What’s up, what do you want?”
He then saw three people get out of the truck and start throwing glass bottles at the three men walking. As they got closer, they began to fight, Gutierrez said. Other people had sticks, but no knives, he added. He said he saw someone get stabbed, but didn’t see what was used for the stabbing. He said the stabbing continued to the “boy already on the floor” and noted it was the same one who had been walking the bike. He said he thought it was an ice pick used to beat the boy, and when asked if he saw the perpetrator present in the courtroom, he said no and added, “I honestly don’t remember anything about the person.”
He then talked about a white car pulling up, saying it was a woman and her husband, but they may have been there to help and were going to call police, Gutierrez said. There was a bit of clarification to be made to the police report, which attorneys and Gutierrez attributed to the language barrier between officers attempting Spanish and Gutierrez attempting English. Gutierrez said parts of the interviews recorded later with police that same night were incorrect. The report stated that Gutierrez had said he didn’t see anyone get stabbed, but he said Tuesday on the stand that that was incorrect, that he did indeed see someone get stabbed.
The last witness Tuesday was Eliot Winder, a resident living on San Pascual Street at the time of the incident. He said it started with hearing “glass crashing on the concrete” outside. He said he saw a truck, already vacated, still running with the lights on. He said he saw six to 10 men wearing “Mexican gang attire” nearby, and saw several running after one person about half a block up from his house. He echoed what Corral said she heard: “Carlos, Carlos, wait up.” At the time, he said he didn’t realize how fatal the incident was.
“It’s just violence and chaos,” he said. “It’s not something pleasant … to be honest I just thought it was a severe beating.” He remembered seeing a white car in the area as well, honking, but doesn’t remember anyone getting out or when it drove away.
He also described seeing several men in the same red truck two or three days previous to the day of the incident with a two-foot-long knife, but said he did not see the person in possession of the knife in the courtroom Tuesday. “They just appeared to be Mexican gangsters,” he said.
On trial for the murder of Lorenzo Carachure, and the attempted murder of his cousin and friend, are Ruben Mize, Ricardo Nava, Raul Diaz and Bryan Medinilla. Nearly all eyewitnesses have yet to identify anyone aside from Mize as being at the scene. The one exception is Emilio Mora, who took a plea deal in the case in exchange for his testimony. He has admitted to being present the night of the murder and has pled guilty to crimes associated with the incident.