A man who said he was in the back seat of a car when his friend pulled out a pistol and shot two men in the front seats was the first witness Monday in the double murder trial of the friend.
Jaime Diaz is charged in the 1998 slayings of Brendon Anderson of North Aurora and Elias Calcano of Aurora, whose burned bodies were found near an Aurora alley, next to Anderson’s fire-damaged black Cadillac.
Jason Peterson, a friend of the defendant’s, said he, Diaz and the two victims were seated in the parked car. Diaz had been chatting with the two men in “normal” tones when Peterson suddenly head a loud gunshot, he said. He looked to his left to see the car’s driver, Anderson, slumped, over and Diaz, pistol in hand, aiming at Calcano in the front passenger seat
“Then he shoots the passenger,” Peterson said.
Peterson testified that he did not know either victim, and had only been in the car a short time. Earlier, Peterson said, he had been at a party, smoking a cigarette outside, when he said he saw Diaz talking with someone in the dark car, and Diaz then asked Peterson to hop into the car with him.
Peterson, now 34, said he fled after the shooting and arrived back at the party a short while before Diaz reappeared. Later, he said, Diaz asked Peterson and a female friend to give him a ride to a gas station and then back to the alleyway, where Diaz doused the bodies and car with gasoline and started a fire.
In his opening statement, Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Sams said Diaz had first encountered the victims that night at the Aurora home of Diaz’s girlfriend. The victims had driven to the girlfriend’s house, and she and her sister were in the car with Anderson and Calcano when Diaz showed up at the house, Sams said.
Sams also told jurors that police had recovered a DNA sample from a beer bottle found in the car’s backseat that matched Diaz.
Assistant Public Defender Greg Brown, in his opening, cautioned jurors that Peterson had received an offer of immunity, and had told a different story to police back in the late 1990s. Peterson was not charged in connection with the case.
“It will be up to you to decide whether you believe him,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, a trial also began Monday in a separate double murder trial in Kane County, one in which Michael Reyes of Aurora is charged in the 1993 slaying of brothers Francisco Montoya, 18, and Jesus Montoya, 19, of Montgomery. The brothers were found shot to death in their family van on Aurora’s near east side in March 1993.
In opening statements, prosecutors said Reyes shot the brothers in a drug rip-off. Reyes, a reputed gang member, was charged in 2007 based on information from other gang members. The attorneys for Reyes urged jurors to view that testimony suspiciously, since much of it was given in return for reduced sentences on other crimes.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times