Flores: Jury convicts Ventura man of 2007 Santa Paula murder
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: September 11, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
It only took a few hours Thursday for a Ventura County jury to convict an area gang member in the murder of a man just outside Santa Paula that occurred six years ago.
After deliberating for about two hours Thursday, jurors found Paul Carrillo, 25, guilty of murdering 27-year-old Edgar Flores in the early evening of August 24, 2007. Prosecutors had maintained that Carrillo shot Flores six times in front of the victim’s Ferris Lane home located just east of Santa Paula.
On September 5 jurors also found Carrillo guilty of special “gang” enhancements including discharging a firearm, killing while participating in a street gang, street terrorism and intentional murder by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle. During the trial, prosecutor Stacy Ratner said Carrillo, a Santa Paula native and former resident who belonged to the Bad Boyz gang, killed Flores to gain status with other gang members.
Carrillo was riding in the back seat of a truck as it drove up and down Flores’ street before the victim walked out the front door of his home, approached the vehicle and was shot down.
Carrillo’s attorney claimed his client acted in self-defense because Flores angrily approached the truck and possibly had his hand in his pocket. Attorney Joseph O’Neill said Carrillo mistook items in Flores’ pockets for a possible weapon and opened fire. But witnesses said Carrillo yelled a gang name as the truck sped away.
Carrillo first trial ended in a mistrial, and when he is sentenced October 3 he could face life in prison without parole. The trial has been beset with mishaps and legal actions: Last year the mother of one of the defendants came to blows with a potential juror over courtroom seating.
Just last week a co-defendant in the case, Manuel Rodriguez, 24, who allegedly was a passenger in the vehicle, was acquitted of all charges. The acquittal came as a surprise to some jurors, who heard the judge state there was too little evidence to substantiate a verdict if the defense were to appeal.
At the second trial witnesses could not place Rodriguez inside the vehicle at the time of the killing, and one witness who first testified he saw Rodriguez later changed his testimony.
The case against the alleged driver and owner of the truck, Miguel Gonzalez, 24, also of Santa Paula, is pending. Gonzalez has received a plea bargain for his testimony and was later recorded in a jailhouse conversation claiming he had lied to prosecutors. He faces the same charges as Carrillo and is scheduled to appear in court October 3.