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Gang member responsible for murder
SANTA ANA – A Fresno gang member should be convicted of murder for the death of a gang colleague who was killed in a shootout with Fullerton police after both men passed out in a stolen car on Harbor Boulevard in 2006, an Orange County prosecutor told a jury here Monday.
Arthur Kenneth Gallardo III, 32, is responsible for the murder of his friend under the "provocative acts" legal theory, because he initiated a series of events that led to death by firing his handgun with the intent to kill at the officers who surrounded the stolen car, Deputy District Attorney Colleen Crommett argued.
Several Fullerton police officers returned fire in the 2:40 a.m. incident on Dec. 28, 2006. Their shots killed Edmundo Francisco Gomez, 21, of Firebaugh in Fresno County, who was sitting in the driver's seat of a stolen Chevrolet Malibu with a shotgun by his side, Crommett said.
Gallardo, who was an associate in the same Fresno County gang and who was on probation for evading police in a stolen car in 2004, was shot several times but suffered non-life-threatening wounds.
He is standing trial now before a jury in Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue's courtroom. He is also charged with attempted murder of police officers, street terrorism and penalty enhancements for street gang activity. If convicted, he faces a potential 45-year to life term in prison.
Deputy Public Defender Seth Bank contended in his closing arguments that Gomez caused his own death when he rammed the police cars that surrounded the stolen car and reached for a shotgun. Gallardo, Bank argued, should not be held responsible for Gomez' actions.
"The 'provocative act' murder theory doesn't fit here," he told jurors. "Mr. Gomez got shot because of his own conduct ... Mr. Gomez is dead because or Mr. Gomez."
Prosecutors say the two gang members hijacked the Chevrolet Malibu from a Fresno pizza delivery person two days before the shootout.
An Orange County Transportation Authority bus driver saw the Malibu blocking the right lane of south Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton about 2:40 a.m. on Dec. 29, 2006 and called police.
Responding officers found the car in gear and still running, and two men apparently asleep or passed out in the front seat, Crommett said. Gomez, the driver, had a shotgun near his side and had his foot on the brake. Gallardo, the passenger, held a handgun.
The officers immediately called for backup and surrounded the car, according to police reports. They then used a bullhorn to wake the passengers to order the occupants to drop their weapons and exit the car.
Instead, Gomez jammed his foot on the accelerator while Gallardo started shooting, using a semi-automatic handgun to fire multiple shots through the front windshield at the police cars parked in front of him, Crommett said
Police responded with gunfire, striking both suspects repeatedly, killing Gomez and wounding Gallardo.
Gallardo's action was "the only factor" that caused Gomez's death, the prosecutor argued.
"But for his actions, Mr. Gomez would still be here today," Crommett told jurors. She will offer rebuttal arguments after lunch and the jury is expected to begin deliberations this afternoon.
Really lady? He hijacked a pizza dude's Malibu and was passed out in a lane with a shotgun!! I'm pretty sure death would have caught up with him shortly thereafter if he hadn't gone that day. His gang colleague should have taken the pizza guys money instead of the Malibu and got them a room to sleep in at the not so comforting Comfort Inn.