Can a man, incapable of walking down the stairs because he's too drunk, conspire to shoot another person?
That's the scenario defense attorney Sean Howard wanted jurors to consider Friday before they reached a verdict.
Attorneys made their closing arguments Friday afternoon in a case involving two alleged gang members charged with attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle and participation in a criminal street gang.
According to police reports, Daniel Uriostegui, 21, and Martin Olvera, 18, shot at Vance Walker, an off-duty Merced police officer, as he drove his pickup along the 3000 block of Park Avenue at 4:30 a.m. last June 19.
The shooting happened in the midst of a party that was growing increasingly out of control at an apartment in the Barcelona Apartment complex. Witnesses testified that both men had been at the party.
The two men were arrested later that day in connection with the crime.
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.
Merced Police Detective Chris Russell told the jury Wednesday that a sobriety test was not administered to Uriostegui during his interview with detectives.
Several major blanks in the case involving the weapon were left unfilled, leaving jurors to rely on the victim's and other witnesses' testimony and other evidence in the case.
According to a police report, 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 breaked, Olvera, who was standing on the curb, spoke to the driver, 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, according to the prosecution.
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 said he never saw Olvera's gun.
Walker wasn't 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.
Bullet shells were never found, so it could not be confirmed that the gun in apartment 22 was the weapon used in the shooting.
Olvera's DNA also wasn't found on the weapon, but the DNA of three other people was found.
According to witness Catherine Von Sivers, who lived next door to the apartment where the party was, Uriotstegui left the party with three other men.
As they descended the stairs, two men walked one way and a third man walked another direction.
Olvera's defense attorney David Capron claimed that his client didn't shoot at Walker, that instead it could have been the third person.
According to David Elgin, prosecuting attorney in the case, after being questioned by police, Olvera denied shooting a gun six times. On the seventh time he said, he had no gunpowder on his hand.
Elgin said that Olvera's statement was something a culpable person says because gunpowder was never even mentioned in his interrogation.
Merced police detectives recovered the weapon. Russell, one of the lead detectives on the case, said he never ran a search on the gun's ownership history.
The jury agreed Friday to come back Monday to continue deliberations to reach a verdict.
If convicted, the two men, who both have criminal records, could face life in prison.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.