Jury selected, trial to begin for man accused of killing Samuel Reeves Jr.

March 02, 2012
Santa Paula News

Opening statements were expected to begin Wednesday afternoon after a jury was selected to consider the murder charge against a Santa Paula man accused of the fatal shooting of a popular area teenager.

Joe “Joey” Fidel Flores, 31, is accused of gunning down Samuel Travis Reeves Jr. at a birthday party at a farmhouse east of Santa Paula in October 2003.

Reeves, 15, attended the party - which drew an estimated 300 people - with his brothers on October 11, 2003. A melee that broke out among partygoers was interrupted by the sound of gunfire and Reeves, a popular Santa Paula High School student, was shot once in the chest.

Flores is accused of murdering Reeves, using a firearm in the commission of the crime, and committing the crime for the benefit of a street gang. Flores’ attorney is expected to argue that Flores, who was arrested July 2009 while incarcerated at Ventura County Jail on unrelated charges, is subject to a manslaughter charge and not homicide. The following December, District Attorney Greg Totten announced his office would not seek the death penalty in the case.

Two other men who belong to the same gang as Flores were tried and acquitted of charges related to Sam’s death in 2005, although one did receive an eight-year prison sentence for another assault he pleaded guilty to that had occurred at the same party. 

The murder of Sam shook the Santa Paula community and its tight-knit population of teenagers, who held a massive candlelight vigil after his death. He was a talented skateboarder and musician. A bench placed by the Reeves family near his Santa Paula Cemetery burial plot is often occupied by the teen’s wide circle of friends.

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