MODESTO — A woman who testified in a double-homicide case earlier this week said in court Friday that she withheld information on the witness stand because she was threatened by the defendant's mother.
Melanie Martin is one of several witnesses who have testified in a preliminary hearing for Robbie Blackwell and Nicholas Spangler. The two are accused of murder in the deaths of Rolando Luna and Andrew Ensey, who were shot last year in front of a Modesto apartment complex.
Martin had finished her testimony, but she returned to the witness stand when inconsistencies in her version of what happened after the shooting were discovered. She admitted that part of her testimony was not true.
"I wasn't supposed to say part of the story," Martin said. She cried several times on the witness stand while explaining why she was afraid to tell the complete truth.
She testified that Nancy Blackwell, Robbie Blackwell's mother, told her not to tell authorities everything, or "she'd f--- me up." Martin said Nancy Blackwell made that threat during a phone conversation after her son was arrested on murder charges several days after the shooting.
Martin didn't tell authorities about the claimed threat from Nancy Blackwell until Thursday.
"I'm scared to be in here," Martin said about testifying. When asked why she was scared, Martin said she was afraid of "getting f----- up."
Luna and Ensey were among a group of males involved in a confrontation with Robbie Blackwell outside a cigarette store on the night of the shooting.
Blackwell left the store after being punched. Luna and Ensey walked away with the others to the nearby apartment complex, where later they were hit by gunfire.
Martin was with Robbie Blackwell that night and witnessed the confrontation at the store. She testified Friday that Blackwell's mother told her not to tell investigators that she returned with the defendant to his parents' home after the confrontation.
Spangler, Blackwell and his father, Ricky Blackwell Sr., left the home. Martin stayed there with Blackwell's mother and Sarah Wilson, Spangler's girlfriend.
When Martin initially testified, she didn't say she left the home after the shooting occurred without Robbie Blackwell. Friday, she said she was heading to a party on the other side of town when she received a text message from Robbie Blackwell, asking her to return to his parents' house.
She picked up Robbie Blackwell, his father and Wilson. Spangler was not there. Martin testified that she dropped off Blackwell's father at his other son's nearby home and then dropped off Wilson at her home before going to the party with Blackwell.
The shooting occurred about 9:15 p.m. Feb. 10, 2012, in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive near Floyd Avenue, several blocks from the Blackwells' home. Witnesses have testified that the gunfire came from a white car, possibly a Lexus.
Wilson testified Friday that she and Spangler arrived at the Blackwells' home about 9 p.m. and that they drove there in Wilson's white Lexus. She said Spangler was at the home for only a few minutes before he left without telling her where he was going.
Blackwell and his father also left the home, Wilson said, adding that she used her cell phone to listen to a local police radio feed on the Internet, something she does often. They heard shots fired in the area before hearing a report of a homicide on the police scanner.
The police dispatchers also reported that witnesses had spotted a white Lexus in the shooting.
Later, Wilson testified that she was going to leave, but her white Lexus was gone. She figured it had been stolen, but Robbie Blackwell told her it was in a safe place. She later asked Spangler about her missing car, and he told her it was safe under a car port.
The next morning, Ricky Blackwell Sr. picked up Wilson and Robbie Blackwell and drove them to his other son's home. Wilson testified that her white Lexus was parked under a car port not visible from the street.
Because of scheduling conflicts, testimony in the preliminary hearing will not resume until July 23. At the end of the hearing, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.