Death penalty murder trial under way
An audio clip played in front of the courtroom: "Yeah, I killed that [expletive]. I shot that fool." The voice belonged to Pedro Valles, a Bakersfield man on trial in Kings County Superior Court for the 2004 murder of Eddie Cervantes. Valles was recorded on the phone as he talked with different people at the Kern County Jail soon after his arrest six years ago.
"I feel OK about what I did," he said in the recording. "I do what I do and it doesn't matter who I do it to. I don't give a (expletive)."
On the other end of the line, a woman asked what he would plead to the charges.
"Not guilty," he said, laughing. "They gonna spend money on my (expletive) if they want to get me."
As the recording played, 37-year-old Valles shook his head in disbelief or irritation. He has already been convicted of a previous Kern County murder, for which he is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The Kings County District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty against him.
"I executed him," Valles said in another recording. "They had a video of me. I shot him point blank right in the head. They asked me why I laughed after I executed him."
It happened just before midnight on June 12, 2004. Cervantes, a 23-year-old beef packer and a longtime resident of Lemoore, was heading into the Lemoore Fastrip convenience store on Lemoore Avenue. As he entered, he ran into another man and got into an argument. This man pulled out a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver and shot him. Witnesses said at least four rounds were fired.
Different reports suggest Valles then walked over, aimed his gun at the fallen man and pulled the trigger again.
Two bullets were taken from Cervantes' body and sent to the Kern County Sheriff's Crime Lab.
Days later, Valles was spotted in Bakersfield walking down the street drunk. Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Marvin Gomez said he tried to talk to Valles, but the man took a fighting stance as if to attack him. Gomez and another deputy subdued him and found a fully loaded .38-caliber revolver in his pocket.
In court on Thursday, Senior Criminalist Gregory Laskowski -- a forensic scientist who specializes in identifying firearms -- said a bullet comparison revealed that the gun found in Valles' pocket was used to kill Cervantes.
The attack was likely fueled by gang associations. Valles has "Los Primos" tattooed across the back of his shaved head, a reference to a Bakersfield gang he is associated with. He also has the numbers one and three tattooed on either cheek, to show his affiliation with the Surenos gang.
When Cervantes was shot, he was wearing a red shirt, which is commonly worn by the Surenos' rivals, the Nortenos.
It was not immediately clear from testimony if Cervantes and Valles had interacted at any point prior to the June 12 attack.
Court proceedings came to an early close on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The prosecution is expected to continue calling witnesses today starting at 9 a.m. in Department 1 of the Kings County Superior Court.http://www.hanfordsentinel.com/articles/2010/03/12/news/doc4b9a9723ae283568799713.txt