MODESTO — An 18-year-old man testifying in a murder trial Tuesday described a 2010 botched home-invasion robbery in Modesto and how one of his accomplices shot a victim in the back as he pleaded for mercy.
Julio Jimenez was shot multiple times. Authorities found the 32-year-old man in the back yard of the home in the 600 block of Thrasher Avenue in Modesto's airport neighborhood. He later died at a local hospital.
Daniel Flores testified he was part of a group of armed Norteño gang members who committed the robbery.
Flores told the jury that Jimenez was on the ground with his hands over his head. Jimenez was speaking in Spanish, so Flores couldn't understand everything he was saying.
"He was pleading, praying, saying, 'I'm sorry,' " Flores testified. He also said they could hear sirens off in the distance.
That's when Domingo Becerra "ran out of the house and shot" Jimenez, Flores said on the witness stand.
Prosecutors have offered plea deals to Flores and Becerra in exchange for their testimony against their alleged robbery accomplices: Hector Rocha Jr., 23; Jaime Cerpa, 31; Phillip Lopez, 19; and Angel Del Villar, 21.
Rocha, Cerpa, Lopez and Del Villar are on trial accused of murder, home-invasion robbery and robbery in connection with Jimenez's death.
During cross examination, Flores said the the Stanislaus County district attorney's office has agreed not to prosecute him for committing robberies at a taco truck and at a market. He also won't be charged with murder in Jimenez's death.
Becerra has already admitted to shooting Jimenez while testifying for a criminal grand jury. As part of their plea deals, Becerra will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison and Flores will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Another alleged accomplice in the robbery, Aquiles Virgen, has testified against the defendants in exchange for a plea deal that will result in a 15 years to life prison sentence.
Virgen has told the jury that the robbery's intent was to steal drugs, which would be sold with the profits benefitting the gang. The drugs were never found at the home.
The planned robbery went wrong when the group of Norteños encountered two men and a woman inside a parked Chevrolet Tahoe in front of the Thrasher Avenue home. Flores testified that they held the three victims at gunpoint and ordered them to the home's back yard.
The victims were ordered to the ground on their stomachs. Flores said the two men had bloodied faces from beatings by their captors. He said one of them, Jimenez, got up and tried to jump over a fence.
Flores said he stopped Jimenez from escaping by grabbing his shirt and forcing him back to the ground.
"Told him if he moved again, I was going to shoot him," Flores testified.
Three men in the group of Norteños broke into the home, causing a ruckus by breaking windows and kicking open the home's back door. Flores told the jury that he heard a lot of commotion, then a couple of gunshots coming from inside the home.
When he heard the sirens, Flores said Becerra came out and shot Jimenez. He said his next instinct was to get out of the area.
The group of robbers, Flores said, drove away in a Jeep. They threw out the masks they used for the robbery. When a police car started chasing them, Flores testified that they threw out the guns they had along a road near the Modesto airport.
The police chase ended in the Parklawn Avenue area in south Modesto, where authorities deflated the Jeep's tires. The suspects jumped out of the vehicle, but were later apprehended.
Testimony in the trial is expected to continue today in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.