San Diego

The trial of Hector Ayala, charged in the 1985 execution-style slayings of three men in a Southeast San Diego garage, opened Tuesday. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Ayala, 37, of San Diego is the second man to go on trial in the April 26, 1985, shootings of three men at New Life Auto Detailing on 43rd Street and the attempted murder of a fourth victim who survived.

Ayala’s brother, Ronaldo Ayala, 36, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder Oct. 12. He was given a death sentence Feb. 10.

A third man, Jose Moreno, 49, will stand trial separately in August after Hector Ayala’s trial is completed. San Diego Superior Court Judge Napoleon Jones is presiding over the case now being tried.


Scheduled to testify today is the lone survivor, Pedro (Pete) Castillo, 42, who said at the first trial that Ronaldo Ayala shot him in the back as he was escaping from the garage.

Killed were Ernesto (Cha Cho) Dominguez, 30; his brother-in- law, Marco Zamora, 31, and Jose (Cucuy) Rositas, 24. All were found gagged, bound, and shot twice in the back of the head, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Bill Woodward.

Woodward said a passing police car found Castillo in the street, where he was bound, gagged and had been stabbed twice. Castillo directed officers to the garage, where they found “unbelievable carnage,” Woodward said.

Woodward said Hector Ayala ordered Castillo into the garage, where he found his friends gagged and bound. Someone made a demand for $10,000, and Castillo told them that he had the money in his tow truck outside, Woodward said.


The gunmen permitted Castillo to leave the garage, but he “ran like hell” after going out the door, said Woodward, and then was shot in the street.

Ayala’s attorney, Bart Sheela III, attacked Castillo’s credibility, saying he “is a drug dealer.”

Castillo and Dominguez were involved in selling heroin out of the garage, said Sheela, and even made deliveries to homes.