OXNARD : Man, 20, to Stand Trial in Killing

A reputed Oxnard gang member was ordered Tuesday to face a murder trial after witnesses testified that he shot a 17-year-old clerk who had stared at him and his friends as their vehicles passed each other.

Jessie Casares, 20, was held to answer charges of murder and use of a firearm in the death of William F. Leadbetter of Oxnard, who was shot in the eye Oct. 22 outside the Airport Laundromat on 5th Street in Oxnard. Casares also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, from an earlier conviction for possessing a dagger.

Casares was riding to a Sav-On drugstore with Fidencio Guzman and four other people at about 2 p.m. Oct. 22 when Leadbetter and his passenger “kind of looked hard at us, as if they recognized someone in our car,” Guzman testified during a preliminary hearing in Ventura County Municipal Court.

Guzman said Leadbetter’s truck turned around and pulled alongside his vehicle at a stoplight. The truck’s passenger then pulled something resembling a pipe or a rifle from the truck and advanced on the car, Guzman said. He said he sped away as the man--identified by authorities as Joey Ramirez, 20, an alleged member of the Trouble Street El Rio gang--moved to hit the car with the object.


Guzman testified that he entered the laundry parking lot as the truck followed, and that Casares, an alleged member of the rival Colonia gang, got out. Guzman said he did not see a gun but heard gunshots, after which Casares got back into the car and they drove away. Two other passengers in the car also testified that they saw no gun and that no one spoke during the incident.

Marion Harsh, a laundry customer, testified that Casares jumped out and began firing a pistol at Leadbetter’s truck just as it pulled in behind the car. Harsh testified that the truck’s driver had fallen over behind the wheel of the truck, while the passenger got out with blood on his back.

Other witnesses testified that Casares jumped out of a car with five other people in it and fired at the truck, then jumped back in before the car sped off.

Casares is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail pending arraignment scheduled for Dec. 26 in Ventura County Superior Court.