In a surprising turn of events, a man on trial for the December slaying of a Lodi teen took the stand Thursday and claimed he is being framed by his alleged accomplices.
Damian Alcantara, 19, of Lodi, told the court he was not present when Carlos Ramirez, 16, was slashed to death on the corner of Elm Street and Cherokee Lane on Dec. 2.
Alcantara has been placed at the scene by Peter Fisher, 18, also on trial for the killing, and Javier Sanchez Juarez, 18, an alleged accomplice who exchanged testimony against the other two for less-severe sentencing.
But Alcantaras attorney, Gregory Davenport, calls their testimony a snitch story that is motivated by gang vendetta and self interest.
There was an incident in 1998 when a police officer told Fisher and Juarez that Alcantara had blamed them for something, Davenport said. Fisher thinks that he can reduce his exposure by concocting a story that blames Alcantara … and Juarez goes from getting 25 years to three years.
Although nobody expected him to testify, Alcantara just wanted the truth to be heard, Davenport said.
The courtroom remained quiet when Davenport called Alcantara to the stand.
No one expected it. I was very surprised, Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa said.
In Fishers testimony Wednesday, he described a drunken evening out with Juarez and Alcantara. The three went out driving and Alcantara wanted to try out a newly acquired stun gun, Fisher testified. They pulled over, and Alcantara approached Ramirez, who was walking with another Lodi teen. A fight ensued, Fisher said, and thats when Fisher ran to his friends aid and pulled a knife, which he admitted using to stab Ramirez.
But Alcantara, who has gone by the nickname Demon, claims he was eating dinner at home with his family, his girlfriend and her mother the night the stabbing occurred.
The two women backed up the story in their testimony.
I was with Damian from 6:30 p.m. until the morning, Alcantaras girlfriend, Regina Ramirez, 17, said, recalling the night in question.
Her mother, Mary Ramirez, of Lodi, agreed.
At 7:30 p.m. (Alcantara) was sitting at the table for dinner, and he was there until 9:30, she said.
Testa and Fishers lawyer, John Schick, tried to poke holes in the womens statements.
Schick pointing out the vested interest Regina Ramirez has in the well-being of Alcantara, whom she plans to marry.
But the women said they would not lie to protect Alcantara.
Testa considers Alcantaras story ludicrous.
I dont think the jury is that gullible, he said.
Why were the three of them hanging out at all if Fisher and Juarez held such a grudge?
The trial continues July 2 in the Stockton branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.
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