One of the girls was 6 and the other was 10 when Triston Ashley Salladay was stabbed to death, on a stairway above from where they were playing.
Yes, the younger girl told a Sacramento Superior Court jury Monday. She remembered seeing Triston on the sunny Valentine's Day afternoon three years ago. Asked when she saw him, she testified, "When he was dead."
The older girl was Salladay's stepdaughter. She said she saw the man who was with Salladay just a few minutes before the fatal stabbing. She said she knew him, and she identified him as Jesus Gallegos. She said he'd been over to the house just a couple of nights earlier and that he had helped her color in her coloring book.
Gallegos, now, 23, is on trial before Judge Russell L. Hom for murder in the Feb. 14, 2010, stabbing death of Salladay, 23, at his place in the 3500 block of 53rd Street in Sacramento's Tahoe Park neighborhood.
Police and prosecutors think the fatal stabbing resulted from a neighborhood dispute that broke out as a result of the theft of a PlayStation video game console a couple of months earlier from Salladay's apartment.
With the trial expected to wrap up early this week, Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall brought in the girls to fill in a couple of blanks left out of the eyewitness testimony four adults provided last week.
While the adults testified to seeing Gallegos and Salladay grappling on the stairway landing outside his apartment, in the days after the victim had been making accusations about who ripped off his PlayStation, none of them said they actually saw Gallegos plunge the knife into Salladay. Nor did any of them provide an identification of the man who did it.
The girls, whose names are being withheld because of their ages, provided those missing pieces of testimony when they took the witness stand on Monday.
A wispy little brown-haired pixie who is now 9, the younger girl didn't totally remember everything that happened on the day of the stabbing, a third of her life ago. But she did remember having to sit on the second to the bottom step below Salladay's apartment because she had gotten in trouble. She said she remembered seeing Salladay after "he got threw down the stairs."
She didn't remember seeing anybody stab Salladay, but she did remember seeing the knife.
"It was in Triston's body," she said.
Sacramento Police Detective Jason Kirtlan testified later that he interviewed the little girl after the killing. She told him then that she remembered hearing an argument. She told him she heard Salladay cussing. She said she saw the man who was with Salladay on the stairway stab him "a lot of times."
The younger girl never identified the stabber, even in a photo lineup.
But the older girl said she saw Gallegos in her apartment in the minutes before the killing. She testified he was talking with her stepfather in what turned out to be Salladay's final moments of consciousness.
Now 13, the witness said she was playing with a third neighbor girl near the bottom of the stairs when she went up to ask permission from Salladay to go visit another friend who lived nearby.
She testified she had seen the man who was in her house with her stepfather "more than once. He's been there a couple times, four or five times."
Last time she saw him, the girl said, was "a couple nights before. He colored my princess thing with me," in a coloring book, she said.
She knew him as "Jesus Gallegos," the girl said.
While she was playing at the bottom of the stairs, she said, she saw Gallegos walk up, "and he was holding his pocket, his right pocket, as he came up the stairs."
In her statement to police after the killing, Detective Hanspeter Merten testified that she told investigators that she also saw Gallegos holding a knife.