Modesto defendant’s gang affiliation is trial’s focus

Rosalio Ahumada (Modesto Bee) | February 10, 2012

A defendant, accused of attempted murder, testified on the witness stand in his trial Friday, telling the jury he did not a shoot an 18-year-old man in a brazen attack in south Modesto.

Javier Garcia testified that he was with his sister and a friend paying credit bills at Vintage Faire Mall and a tattoo shop in Modesto on the night the shooting occurred.

Jose Orozco has told investigators that his former high school classmate, Garcia, shot at him multiple times as he escaped into his home on Sept. 5, 2008. Orozco survived three gunshot wounds in his back.

Deputy District Attorney Tom Brennan has told the jury that longtime hostilities between rival gangs led to the shooting. Testimony in court has indicated Orozco is a Norteño gang member and Garcia is a member of the rival Sureños gang.

Garcia testified he is not a member of the Sureños but that he has associated with people police believe are Sureños. He said gang leaders don’t allow members to testify in court or speak to authorities about the gang.

“If you testify, they can hurt you, probably kill you,” Garcia said on the witness stand.

Garcia has been in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail awaiting his trial since his arrest shortly after the shooting. He said other inmates assaulted him on his first day in jail.

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