Clerk testifies in shooting

PASADENA — A store clerk testified in Pasadena Superior Court on Tuesday that she saw two alleged Burbank gang members fighting with a Glendale man two years ago, and that one of them then followed him into the store and fired eight gunshots.

Nubia Verdin said she hid behind the front counter at the American Market just after 10 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2007, when the shots rang out. After looking up from behind the counter and seeing red matter splattered throughout the market, she ran to the man, who was identified as Enrique Pinela.

Pinela was OK, Verdin testified. He got up on his own and was bleeding from only one of his hands. The red matter sprayed on the walls was tomato sauce, not blood.

Verdin was the first witness to testify about the 2007 shooting in which Natividad Delossantos, 31, and Armando Martinez Jr., 28, are charged. They are charged with the attempted murder of Pinela and assault with a deadly weapon on Verdin and Pinela’s girlfriend, Margaret Campbell.

Campbell was inside the store on Lake Street in Glendale when the shots were fired.

The trial began Tuesday morning with opening statements from Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Kim, Martinez’s attorney, Salvador Salgado, and Delossantos’ attorney, Robert Schwartz.

Kim set the scene of the crime for the jury, describing the dispute among Pinela and the pair and how they tried to kill him.

But Delossantos’ attorney said his client had not intended to kill Pinela.

“He never tried to hunt him down,” Schwartz said. “He never tried to track him down.”

Delossantos also did not try to hurt Verdin and Campbell because he had nothing against them, “and at no time did he shoot in their direction,” his attorney said.

“What he is guilty of is assault with a deadly weapon against Mr. Pinela,” Schwartz said.

The men approached Pinela, saying they were from a Burbank gang, and asked if he was from a Glendale gang, Verdin testified.

“Rick said he didn’t have a problem. He wasn’t from nowhere,” she said Pinela told the men.

Kim showed a surveillance videotape that showed a fight between the men outside the store and the shooting inside the store.

While Verdin was on the witness stand, Kim asked her to identify the person who held the gun in the shooting.

Verdin looked around the courtroom, and at first she couldn’t identify the shooter. When Judge Lisa Lench turned on the courtroom’s lights, which had been dimmed to view the video, Verdin was able to identify Delossantos as the shooter.

But she testified that he did not shoot at her.

Campbell was reluctant to testify in court Monday morning, and Kim asked her why.

“Nobody wants to be here,” she said on the witness stand.

Kim asked her to explain what a snitch was, but Campbell said she didn’t know and didn’t remember anything from the shooting.

He told her to explain some of the bad things that happen to snitches.

“You can get hurt, I guess,” Campbell said.


 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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