Charles Bourdon softened up Richard Antonio Noguera, pounding the witness’s credibility Tuesday before handing him off to the other defense lawyer, Don Masuda, who suggested Noguera was responsible for a baby’s shooting death he attributed to two old roommates.
Masuda wondered if the witness lied to detectives to protect himself and asked if it really wasn’t true that Noguera hired the two drug-house robbers who shot and killed Sean Aquitania Sr., 21, and his 7-month-old son Sean Jr.when the dad unknowingly drove into the armed attack in progress on Country Greens Court.
“I had nothing to do with it,” Noguera fired back, nearing the end of his two days on the witness stand in the murder trial of Donald Ortez-Lucero, 29, and Christopher Strong, 30, the two men accused in the Sept. 14, 2007, robbery shootings in which the Aquitanias were killed.
At one time Noguera was a defendant in the case, along with Strong and Ortez-Lucero, who all shared a house at the time of the fatal shootings. Sheriff’s detectives arrested Noguera for the murders because one night while he was beating up an ex-girlfriend in a drunken rage, he bragged about killing the Aquitanias.
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He persuaded authorities to drop charges on him with the story he laid out in court Monday that the two defendants told him how the killings unfolded. Phone records corroborated portions of Noguera’s story by tracking the movements of Ortez-Lucero and Strong the day of the killings in accordance with his account of their actions. Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall has a lineup of lesser witnesses ready to provide more backup to Noguera’s testimony.
On Tuesday, Bourdon and Masuda put Noguera in front of a four-hour firing squad of questions aimed at his credibility and what they want jurors to believe was his culpability.
Noguera admitted he made a good part of his living selling marijuana. He also affirmed he dabbled in sales of the party drug Ecstasy. He beat up women with an attitude so casual, he even had a motto: “You hit ’em, you don’t need ’em.”
Bourdon asked who that credo applied to, and Noguera answered, “Any woman.”
The lawyers ripped into Noguera over his active sex life. The day of the killings, Noguera testified he was in an encounter with one woman when Ortez-Lucero and Strong arrived at their house on West River Drive about a half hour after the shootings. A few hours later, he said he hooked up with a different woman down the street.
Noguera testified he drove a $100,000 Cadillac Escalade, a $70,000 BMW and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and that he owned several other vintage cars. Besides dealing dope, he said he made money building cars and snagging potential homebuyers for real estate loan processors. He identified Ortez-Lucero as one of his clients.
He wore expensive jewelry, and diamonds in his fancy watch sparkled in Judge Patrick Marlette’s courtroom while the witness slouched on the stand during direct examination Monday. He wore a duller watch Tuesday.
Noguera carried stolen guns he bought on the street and a Glock he owned legitimately, he testified.
Of course he lied, Noguera said, when he denied to family members he beat up the woman that led to his 2011 arrest for murder.
“I was ashamed,” he explained.
He never called police when his roommates admitted the killings because “I was scared.” He said he was still scared when he cooperated with detectives, even though he he had barely seen or heard from the defendants for four years.
He said he also was afraid he’d get in trouble “for doing what I did, after the fact,” like cleaning the blood out of a car he rented that authorities say the defendants used the day of the shootings. The blood came from a gunshot to Strong’s leg from a bullet fired by Ortez-Lucero that fatally passed through Sean Aquitania Sr., Noguera said the defendants told him.
For most of Tuesday’s court session, Noguera endured the accusations and castigations of the defense lawyers.
Kindall, the DA, seemed to think he held up pretty well.
“No questions,” the prosecutor replied, when the judge asked Kindall if he had anything for Noguera on redirect.