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Trial Ordered in Slaying of Bystander

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Saticoy man charged in the fatal shooting of a Cabrillo Village father of four was ordered Thursday to stand trial for murder, even as prosecutors conceded he did not fire the deadly blast.

Retired Ventura County Judge Burt Henson set a Jan. 25 Superior Court arraignment for 21-year-old Rudolfo Leo Martinez on charges of murder and shooting at an occupied dwelling.

Jose Guadelupe Gutierrez, 37, was shot in the heart Oct. 1 as he stood chatting with a friend outside a building where he had led an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

During a preliminary hearing Thursday in Municipal Court, a Ventura police detective testified that Martinez had confessed to being one of three men who fired shots in the direction of Gutierrez, described by authorities as an innocent victim of gang violence.

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Martinez, a Saticoy gang member, told police he fired a shot from a 12-gauge shotgun as part of a hail of bullets aimed at Cabrillo Village, where rival gang members live, Detective Patrick Stevens testified.

Defense attorney Willard P. Wiksell, representing Martinez, confirmed that his client has acknowledged participating in the shooting.

“He admitted to the police that he was there and that he fired,” Wiksell said following the hearing.

Outside court, Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger Inman said prosecutors believe two other assailants had fired guns that day. One of the others actually fired the bullet that killed Gutierrez, Inman theorized, based on the fact that Gutierrez was hit by a round from a handgun.

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Martinez has declined to identify his accomplices, Inman said. But he is still just as culpable for Gutierrez’s fate and is being charged with murder because he aided and abetted the crime, the prosecutor said.

As the other two men ran close to the housing cooperative and fired their shots, Martinez stayed behind and squeezed off two or three rounds from his shotgun to cover his accomplices, according to Inman.

Investigators responding to the scene found six shell casings from a .22-caliber handgun, one from a shotgun and two or three from Martinez’s weapon, Inman said.

“Obviously, there are two other suspects out there, and we’re continuing to investigate,” the prosecutor said.

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The slaying outraged the community because of the random nature of the violence. For more than a week, police failed to turn up any suspects in connection with the crime, but were able to arrest Martinez after he had been identified as a possible suspect in an unrelated gang shooting, according to Inman.

Shotgun casings from that shooting matched those taken from the scene of the Gutierrez slaying, Inman said.

When Martinez was arrested at his Saticoy home Nov. 11, police found the shotgun that matched both casings tucked underneath the defendant’s bed, Inman said.

Martinez is being held in the Ventura County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

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