By JULIAN AGUILAR
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
A 13-year-old middle school student testified Tuesday that he and three other juveniles were subdued by a homeowner
who caught them in his mobile home last year and posed the man no imminent threat when one of the unarmed teens
was shot in the back and killed.
The statements came during the first day of testimony in the murder trial of Jose Luis Gonzalez, 63, who shot
Francisco Anguiano, 13, on Gonzalez’s property in Los Centenarios subdivision in July 2007. The juveniles said they
entered the man’s home to take snacks and sodas.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Isidro “Chilo” Alaniz, said instead that Gonzalez was attempting to subdue the teens and
Anguiano lunged at him during a confrontation. Out of fear for his life and in the commotion that followed, Alaniz
said, the gun went off.
“He found four individuals ransacking his property, going through his living room,” he said during opening arguments.
“He orders them to the ground, and they are resisting his orders.”
In the ensuing seconds, Alaniz said, Anguiano lunged for Mr. Gonzalez’s legs.
The witness, whose name is not being printed because he is a juvenile, told a different account.
After being caught in the mobile home, he said, the four were ordered to their knees and Gonzalez then proceeded to
strike the intruders with the gun and kick them. A photograph showed the witness with a half-inch welt on his back he
said came from Gonzalez’s foot.
After asking the witness how many times he had burglarized the mobile home before, the teen testified, Gonzalez
threatened to shoot him before he shot his cousin Anguiano.
“He told me, ‘Tell me the truth or I am going to shoot you,’ ” he said. Seconds afterward, he added, Anguiano was shot
and lay motionless, bleeding.
“He said (to drag Anguiano) out, and if we didn’t do that, he was going to shoot us, too,” the witness said.
In fact, prosecutors alleged, it was the anger felt at being burglarized before that led to Gonzalez’s acting as a vigilante and solving matters himself.
“This victim suffered a great deal and he suffered because this defendant wanted vengeance,” said Assistant District
Attorney Jesse Guillen. “And that’s really what the case is about.”
Alaniz instead focused on what he deemed as inconsistencies in the teen’s testimony to refute the intruders’ account of
“We brought out inconsistencies in his testimony versus the statement he gave the day of the incident,” Alaniz said.
“The most glaring was the one where he testified that they were going in for Cokes and munchies and he testified
under questioning that Anguiano, the deceased, said ‘Let’s go in there and see what we can take.’ You start from there
and there are all these other inconsistencies that came out regarding positioning, regarding statements that were
allegedly made, and (regarding) time and place that come in to play.”
During his cross-examination, Alaniz asked why the witness did not tell investigators he allegedly had a gun to his
head when he was giving them his statement just hours after the shooting.
The witness testified that he forgot, which Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker said is consistent with a child who
has undergone a traumatic experience. Dr. Susanna Rivera, a child therapist at SCAN in Laredo, testified to that effect,
which Druker said explains the inconsistencies.
“Originally we had an 11-year-old child (at the time of the shooting), who witnessed his cousin get shot and killed
right before his eyes and was beaten and psychologically and physically abused himself,” Druker said. “Dr. Susanna
Rivera has met with him, and she testified that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and one of the textbook
characteristics is that a person may not remember. She explained why some of the things he said in court today may
not have been included in that one-page statement.”
Druker added that the statement still includes “all the pertinent facts of what happened inside that house” but just lacks the detailed account given Tuesday.
Alaniz said the ultimate decision would be left up to the jury.
“The state’s got their theory,” he said. “I know they brought in a witness to testify that the witness suffered from PTSD, but again, the jury is going to have to determine and weigh the credibility of the witnesses as to how far and to what extent that type of condition affects somebody’s credibility.”
He added that his client was about a year removed from bypass surgery, and that he had never run afoul of the law
Also Tuesday, Sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Maldonado testified that Gonzalez initially said that a 16-gauge shotgun was
used in the shooting, but Maldonado said the gun looked as if it hadn’t been fired because it had dirt and lint in the
barrel. Maldonado told jurors he found the actual weapon used, a semiautomatic, Russian-made shotgun, in a truck on
the property and that the 16-gauge shotgun had been reported stolen.
Alaniz said Tuesday that was the first time he’d heard about the alleged stolen weapon, but added that his client has
never been charged with any crime related to having that in his possession.
Alaniz also showed jurors a picture of a machete Gonzalez had in the mobile home as proof, he said, that the intruders
had access to deadly weapons while they burglarized the property.
Druker said the machete was buried under a pile of clothes and went unnoticed by even sheriff’s deputies during their
initial investigation. That, he said, is proof the teens did not know it was there and had no intent of using it.
The two remaining witnesses to the shooting are expected to testify this week, as is Gonzalez himself. During that
time, Alaniz said, the jury will learn that his client did in fact fear for his life and used his resources to ensure it was protected.
“He was in defense mode,” Alaniz said. “He was in survival mode.”