Questionnaires were given to potential jurors Tuesday in the trial of an 18-year-old man accused of shooting a man to death at a Los Banos residence.
Albert Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Shane T. Moore. Hernandez also faces three counts of attempted murder in the shooting of three people who were with Moore but survived.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Min, the prosecutor in the case, said jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin Thursday in Judge Ronald Hansen’s courtroom. Attorneys are expected to present opening statements around Nov. 26, Min said.
The shooting was reported about 9 p.m. March 4. According to police reports, witnesses said some of the victims had been helping someone move into the house. The victims had been gathered in the garage when someone opened fire.
Police believe Hernandez was the shooter, and that he had a 16-year-old accomplice named Christopher Aguayo. Witnesses reported seeing someone hiding behind a vehicle in front of the home when the shots rang out. Hernandez initially denied any involvement in the shooting to police, but later confessed and said Moore’s death was accidental and that he was aiming at rival gang members, according to police reports. Police have said Hernandez, Aguayo and some of the victims are documented gang members, but Moore was not.
Hernandez was 17 years old and Aguayo was 15 years old at the time of the shooting, but both were charged as adults. Aguayo pleaded no contest earlier this year to being an accessory and a gang enhancement in the case. Aguayo will serve a sentence of seven years in the state Division of Juvenile Justice within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Police said that while being questioned, Aguayo broke down crying, saying he didn’t want to participate in the shooting, and had gotten into an argument with Hernandez before the incident. Aguayo said Hernandez rode off on a bike after the argument, and he then heard gunshots. Aguayo said Hernandez had admitted committing the shooting afterward.
Hernandez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Chris Loethen, said he couldn’t elaborate about some details concerning his client’s defense before trial. Loethen did say that although several people were inside the garage when the shooting happened, no one actually saw the shooter’s face. Loethen said his client’s fingerprints were not on the gun, nor were his fingerprints on the bike, which belonged to Aguayo.
The defendant’s fingerprints also were not on a parked U-Haul van that authorities said the shooter used as cover, Loethen said. He added that as a consequence of Aguayo’s plea, he “may have information that may be helpful to Mr. Alberto’s defense.” Loethen said he could not elaborate on what that information may be.
Sun-Star City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.