See the update at the end of this post on the prosecution and defense's opening statements.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 25, 6 A.M.: Trial is scheduled to begin today for a Fullerton man accused of shooting and murdering a teenager who was changing a tire in an alley in that city on St. Patrick's Day 2011.
Charles Thomas Ramirez Jr., 36, faces felony murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and a 2008 prison conviction for theft that could put him back in the joint for 51 years.
Larry Ruiz was the teen dealing with a flat on his Nissan Quest with a friend behind his house in the 1100 block of West Williamson Avenue around 9:30 p.m. on March 17, 2011, when Ramirez approached them.
Ramirez confronted Ruiz, claiming that he had been involved in a physical fight earlier in the day with Ramirez's friend. Ruiz denied he'd been fighting with Ramirez's pal, but the older man punched the teen in the face anyway. Ruiz began to back away to escape when Ramirez allegedly pulled out a gun, shot Ruiz once in the head and split. Ruiz died at the scene. His friend was uninjured. Ramirez was arrested by Fullerton cops the next day.
UPDATE, NOV. 26, NOON: At the trial's opening Monday, the defense and prosecution presented very different scenarios, according to Paul Anderson's coverage for City News Service.
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Based on Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy statement to jurors: Charles Thomas Ramirez Jr.'s roommate, 30-year-old Marc Tomas Luna, was walking home from a Narcotics Anonymous meeting when two men in a Toyota Camry pulled up alongside him and demanded his cell phone. Luna ran home, dropping the phone on the way, and told Ramirez what happened. Ramirez suggested they go back and find the phone, but when they reached the alley he confronted Larry Ruiz and his friend Edwin DeSantiago, who were fixing a tire. Luna told Ramirez, "Those aren't the guys, the guys who wanted to get my phone were white guys." Ramirez punched Ruiz anyway and then shot him with a .22-caliber gun in the head. Luna ran back home, where Ramirez warned him to not talk to police.
Based on the statement of Sperry Tavoularis of the Alternate Defender's Office: A Fullerton gang had been hassling Luna, who returned home from the 12-step meeting bleeding. He and Ramirez, who was armed to protect himself from gangs, found the phone and then Ramirez confronted Ruiz in the alley because he thought the young man had ties to the gang. "Stop hassling my homie," Ramirez said before, feeling threatened, he punched Ruiz, who grabbed a tire iron. Fearing for his life, Ramirez fired his gun and ran, unaware that he had injured anyone.
The jury will have to decide, after seeing the evidence and hearing the testimony, which version is rooted in reality. But one thing going against the defense: Luna and DeSantiago are scheduled to testify for the prosecution.