By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
Defense attorney James Klipstine Jr. spent much of Thursday attempting to chip away at the credibility of a parade of prosecution witnesses in the first-degree murder trial of a 31-year-old Clovis man.
Testimony began with the cross-examination of the prosecution’s key witness, Daniel Garcia, who testified Wednesday he and defendant Robert Macias shot at a car driven by victim Wilfred Salas Jr., 19.
Salas was shot in the head on Jan. 15, 2006, and later died.
Garcia and other witnesses constructed for jurors a timeline of events from a dispute they said Macias had at a local bar to the shooting.
Several witnesses testified they withheld details or lied to investigators initially because they were concerned their actions the night of the shooting would incriminate them in other offenses, such as parole violations.
Klipstine challenged Garcia’s lack of truthfulness at the beginning of the investigation.
“So (a week after the shooting) you call the police officer back and tell him you’ll tell him everything, but you don’t — you lie,” Klipstine asked Garcia.
“I was worried about (incriminating) myself,” Garcia said. “I was worried about the streets but I did tell the truth, I told him who the murderer was.
“I’ve never been involved in no kind of murder.”
Garcia said he sold one of the firearms shot that night, a .380 handgun, in San Antonio, Texas. He did so after giving sworn testimony in a preliminary hearing in the case against Macias.
“You were sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — you didn’t do that,” Klipstine told him.
“I know what the truth is and I know today I’m sitting here telling the truth. I was scared of retaliation, of being a snitch — the streets are evil dawg. … I didn’t kill nobody,” Garcia responded.
Garcia, 26, faces felony charges for his role in the shooting.
Joshua Garcia, the victim’s cousin but no relation to Daniel Garcia, said he lied to police initially about being at the bar, saying he feared repercussions because he was on probation.
“I was concerned about me going back to prison. Truthfully, I didn’t want to be involved with anything. Even today I still don’t. In my life growing up, I’m a compulsive liar. I tried to get out of my situation. I’m not a snitch,” he said.
Joshua Garcia’s girlfriend, Maria Gonzales, said she too withheld details from investigators initially.
“I was on probation and that would have been another count for fighting,” she said on her early failure to disclose the incident at the bar.
Though pushed on their early reluctance to give truth to investigators, all of the witnesses involved in the events of that night strongly maintained they were being forthcoming in their trial testimony.
The prosecution is expected to continue its case today.
District Attorney Matt Chandler told the judge he would try to wrap up his case today.