Murder trial ordered Man slain outside bar

Murder trial ordered
Man slain outside bar

By Karen Maeshiro
Staff Writer

Friday, June 11, 2004 –

LANCASTER — A Lancaster ex-convict has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he murdered a reputed gang member in a slaying last year outside a Lancaster bar.

Juan Trinidad, 27, is accused in the April 2003 shooting of Robert Esparza, 27, who had a drink in The Trap bar with two other men believed to be gang members and was found fatally wounded in the parking lot moments after the trio walked out the door.

Prosecutors have charged Trinidad with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, saying the kil#i*gg was “preplanned.”

A second defendant, Joseph Hutchinson, is still being sought, prosecutors said.

Trinidad, who state records show had been released from prison eight days before Esparza was shot to death, also is charged with being a felon with a firearm.

Trinidad has a prison record dating back to 1995, when he was sentenced to one year and four months for a vehicle-theft conviction in the Los Angeles area.

In 1997, he was convicted of attempted robbery in an Antelope Valley case. He was convicted in March 2003 of vehicle theft but paroled the following month, Department of Corrections records show.

Investigators said Esparza and two other men entered The Trap, in the 2800 block of East Avenue I, together just before 11:30 p.m. April 22, 2003.

The three sat there quietly drinking for about five minutes, then walked outside into the parking lot, homicide investigators said.

Seconds after the men left the bar, people inside the bar heard several gunshots, followed by the sound of vehicles speeding away.

Esparza was found bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound, officials said.

Someone inside the bar called 911. Rescue crews rushed the man to Antelope Valley Hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

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