MODESTO — The girlfriend of a defendant accused of murder testified Tuesday that she was pressured by her father and police to tell investigators details about what happened the night two teenagers were gunned down in north Modesto.
Sarah Wilson said on the witness stand that she initially didn't want to speak to investigators, because the shooting involved gang members and she was afraid for her safety. She testified her father contacted a high-ranking Modesto police official, who provided him with some information about the double-homicide investigation.
Wilson said her father, who was told his daughter was involved in the case, convinced her to talk to police. She said some of the details she provided while spending 11 hours at police headquarters were false.
"I felt pressured," Wilson testified in her boyfriend's preliminary hearing. "I was just really tired and cold, and I wanted to get out of there."
After a four-month hiatus, the preliminary hearing resumed with Wilson's testimony Tuesday morning. At the end of the hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Nicholas Spangler, Wilson's boyfriend, and his brother Robbie Blackwell are accused of murder in the shooting deaths of Rolando Luna and Andrew Ensey.
Altercation at the cigarette store
Previous testimony indicates Luna, 15, and Ensey, 19, were among a group of males involved in a confrontation Feb. 10, 2012, with Robbie Blackwell outside a cigarette store on the night of the shooting. The defendant left the store after being punched.
Luna and Ensey also left, walking with others to a nearby apartment complex in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive near Floyd Avenue, where later they were hit by gunfire.
Wilson testified that she drove with Spangler to Blackwell's parents' home on the night of the shooting, because her boyfriend had to help his brother. Under cross-examination, Wilson said she didn't know about what help was needed because she always did what Spangler told her, no questions asked.
She has testified that she arrived about 9 p.m. at the Blackwell family home, not far from the shooting scene, in her white Lexus before Spangler left. Wilson said she didn't see Spangler leave in her car. She told investigators Spangler told her to turn on a police scanner app on her iPhone before he left, but she denied that Tuesday in her testimony.
"When I look back now, I don't remember," Wilson said about Spangler telling her to turn on the police scanner.
She testified that she later heard what sounded like gunfire, before hearing a report on the police scanner of a shooting and suspect vehicle that appeared to be a white four-door Lexus. Wilson has said in court that she was going to leave, but her white Lexus was gone.
Wilson said Tuesday she didn't know where Spangler was until she saw him later that night at his home. She told investigators Spangler said her car was safe under a carport, but she said testified she was pressured into providing that information.
During cross-examination, she said her father was concerned for her safety because police told him she was involved in a double homicide. She testified that her father was "yelling at me, telling me I had to" speak to police.
Modesto police Detective Ra Pouv questioned Wilson last year. He testified Tuesday that Wilson said she recovered her missing white Lexus the day after the shooting. The car was parked underneath a carport at an apartment complex not far from the shooting scene.
The detective testified that Wilson said the key to the Lexus was left on one of the car's tires. He said Wilson was with Spangler, Blackwell and Blackwell's father when she picked up the car.
Pouv also questioned Blackwell's roommate after the shooting. The roommate said Blackwell possessed a 9 mm handgun, a .22-caliber handgun and ammunition at their apartment, according to Pouv.
The roommate also said that Blackwell told him during a phone call that he was assaulted at the cigarette store and "some stupid s--- went down," Pouv testified.
The roommate then told Pouv that Blackwell said "I busted my cohete at one of those kids, and I hit one of them," according to the detective. "Cohete" is Spanish for firecracker, but it is also street slang for gun.
Testimony in the preliminary hearing continues today in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.