A variety of witnesses took the stand Thursday in the trial of those accused of killing 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure in 2007. Dr. Donald Rink from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital took the stand to discuss the specifics of the knife wounds Carachure sustained on the night of his death. Jose Herrera testified against his friend Ruben Mize, providing information as part of his own plea agreement in a separate case. And Rogelio Hernandez, a friend of Carachure’s and one of three Westsiders present at the scene of the incident resulting in the death of Carachure, was called to the stand and ordered by the court to testify, but refused to speak.
When he was brought into Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on July 16, 2007, Carachure’s most critical injuries were two stab wounds to his neck, said Rink, but he also had one superficial wound on his chest, and two wounds in his upper abdomen. The stab wounds in the neck were causing it to expand, the doctor explained, and this expansion was compromising the ability of air to move through the trachea from the mouth to the lungs. Carachure was intubated while they applied direct pressure to his neck — a strategy to decrease his blood loss. Rink said that they were concerned about the carotid artery or venous supply, both could be severely damaged from a wound to the neck. They made a large incision on the neck, and found that the internal jugular vein was sliced open, so they sewed it up, Rink told the court. The repair of the internal jugular vein was successful, Rink said, but “we had just finished that, and he arrested.”
Rink explained that heavy blood was coming from Carachure’s right chest cavity — about 6.5-8.5 cups of blood. The doctor proceeded to open up Carachure’s sternum and pericardial sac, and found that there was no blood in his heart. They were unable to get his heart to refill with blood, and couldn’t get blood into him faster than he was losing it, the doctor told the court. Carachure died shortly after midnight.
Rink explained that the bleeding in Carachure’s chest was not from the stab wound to his chest, which was superficial and would not have caused such a large amount of bleeding. The only explanation for the bleeding is that the knife wound from the left side of Carachure’s neck extended downward and to the right where there are large vessels in close proximity. Rink was unable to identify specifics about the type of knife that was used.
The stab wounds to Carachure’s abdomen touched the liver and “in and of itself would be a big injury,” Rink said of the damage, “but compared to the rest, it was minor.”
Herrera testified Thursday against his longtime friend, defendant Mize. A former Eastside gang member, Herrera alleged that on July 16, the night of Lorenzo Carachure’s death, Mize called and asked him to go gangbanging. Herrera said that he declined because he had something he needed to do the next day. Sometime within two weeks following that night, Mize allegedly contacted Herrera and shared some information pertaining to the fight in which Carachure was killed.
Herrera said that Mize told him they saw three Westsiders near the Guadalajara Market, when he yelled “Traviesos” (a clique within the larger Eastside gang). They “beat them up and stabbed them,” Mize allegedly told Herrera. “Nemo died — he got stabbed pretty bad.” Herrera said that he was informed that two of the Westsiders had been badly stabbed. Mize allegedly told Herrera that he had a weapon, but it was not a knife, and they had disposed of it along with knives and clothes, saying they had “gotten rid of evidence” by throwing them into the ocean off a cliff on the mesa. In his preliminary hearing testimony, however, Herrera said Mize did not give him details about the stabbing, according to details that emerged through cross-examination. He also admitted he originally lied to detectives about his involvement in the robbery for which he was facing charges, but explained that he decided to tell the truth in order to keep a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.
The day after the incident, Herrera allegedly spoke with defendant Ricardo Nava outside the Franklin Clinic. Nava had brought a copy of a printed article about the death of Lorenzo Carachure. Nava told him that one of the Westsiders hit him in the shoulder with a wooden object, and he responded by stabbing them, said Herrera. Nava allegedly showed Herrera the bruise on his shoulder from where he was hit. Allegedly, Nava said that he stabbed all three of the Westsiders involved. Herrera said that Nava told him that he was left behind at the scene of the incident, and had walked to a local store and called his mother to come pick him up.
Hernandez, who didn’t want to testify on the stand, will be called back to testify next week, the beginning of the fourth week of testimony. Also facing murder charges are Raul Diaz and Bryan Medinilla.