Flores murder: Prospective juror, defendant’s mother exchange blows
September 07, 2012
Santa Paula News
Jury selection in a trial concerning a 2007 murder had to start over again after the mother of one of the defendants and a prospective female juror came to blows inside the courtroom Friday.
All prospective jurors inside the courtroom when the incident occurred were dismissed from hearing the first-degree murder case. Jury selection in the murder trial of Paul Carrillo and Manuel Rodriguez, both 24 and members of a Santa Paula gang, was scheduled to begin again Wednesday, more than a week after the jury selection process started.
Carrillo, of Ventura, and Rodriguez, of Santa Paula, are accused of fatally shooting Edgar Flores, 27, on August 24, 2007. Flores was shot as he approached a pickup that had passed his house several times in the 100 block of Ferris Drive east of Santa Paula before stopping in front of it.
Ventura County Sheriff’s detectives testified at a preliminary hearing that when Flores asked the men why they were driving by his house Carrillo fired on him. Carrillo, his cousin Rodriguez and Miguel Gonzalez, 25, the driver of the pickup, were charged with the special circumstance that the slaying was committed for the benefit of a Santa Paula street gang.
The courtroom dust up, according to witnesses, started when a prospective juror left her seat to use the restroom. When she returned Carrillo’s mother, who entered the courtroom after the prospective juror had left, was sitting in her seat. The women exchanged words and reportedly the prospective juror struck Carrillo’s mother, who hit her back.
The attorneys for the defendants as well as the prosecutor agreed a fresh panel of jurors would have to be interviewed to avoid the risk that, if convictions were returned against the defendants, an appeal could be filed based on the incident.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty in 2009 to charges connected to the murder, voluntary manslaughter and carrying a loaded weapon. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison and is expected to testify at the trial.