Defense attorney Sean Howard began questioning witnesses Wednesday in a case involving two men accused of shooting at an off-duty police officer last June.
The two alleged gang members, Martin Olvera, 18, and Daniel Uriostegui, 21, face charges of attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle and participation in a criminal street gang.
According to reports, the two men shot at Vance Walker, an off-duty Merced police officer, as he drove his pickup truck along the 3000 block of Park Avenue at 4:30 a.m. on June 19.
The shooting happened in the midst of a party that was growing increasingly out of control at unit 22 of the Barcelona Apartment complex. Uriostegui had been at the party.
The two men were arrested later that day in connection with the shooting.
Merced Police Detective Chris Russell told the jury Wednesday that a sobriety test was not administered to Uriostegui during his interview with police detectives.
In September, Howard talked with the Sun-Star about his client Uriostegui, and said Uriostegui happened to be at the "wrong place at the wrong time" and that he had been to the party before the shooting and was too inebriated to "conspire to do anything."
Howard added that Uriostegui was passing out during questioning.
Russell said he didn't smell alcohol on the suspect's breath during his interview and that Uriostegui admitted to drinking two big beers the night of the incident, yet the size of the beers was not confirmed.
According to a police report of the shooting, Officer Vance Walker was driving southbound on Park Avenue when he saw Uriostegui walking from the east curb line. Uriostegui walked into the southbound lane, stopping directly in front of Walker's truck.
After Walker braked, Olvera, who was standing on the curb, spoke to the victim saying something along the lines of, "Do you have a cigarette?" Walker replied that he didn't, but began feeling suspicious because Uriostegui looked over his shoulder toward Olvera, as if something were about to happen.
As Walker drove away, he heard at least three or four shots coming from Olvera's direction. Walker ducked and sped away from the scene, three bullets striking his car. He called police after leaving the scene.
Walker was not injured.
The police department's SWAT team later searched the apartment where the party took place and found a revolver, which officers believed was used in the shooting, in a crawl space above a bedroom.
Merced police detectives recovered the weapon, but Russell, one of the lead detectives on the case, said he never ran a search on the gun's ownership history.
If convicted, the two men, who both have criminal records, could face life in prison.
David Capron, Olvera's attorney, made no comment about the case.
The trial officially began Jan. 25. Judge John Kirihara said that witness testimony should conclude Thursday.
The prosecuting attorney is David Elgrin.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.