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Two Lodi teens to face attempted murder charges

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Posted: Friday, July 25, 2003 10:00 pm

An 18-year-old woman testified in a Lodi court Friday that she never heard gunshots as she stood outside a Harney Lane house two months ago, but will always have a bullet lodged in her head as proof of the shooting.

Judge David P. Warner ruled Friday that two Lodi teenagers, Brandon Packer, 17, and Wesley Merle Woodworth, 19, must stand trial on charges of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

Seven weeks after the shooting, Corina Canepa, of Acampo, quietly told Warner at Friday's preliminary hearing about the night of June 6, and the first hour of June 7.

"I remember lying on the ground and the people who were there … they thought I was dead. Then I moved," she said

Brandon Packer

Packer and Woodworth sat at the defense table with their lawyers. Behind them, approximately 40 people sat quietly as Canepa described the night when she happened to be standing outside a home and saw a white car drive by, turn around and then come back.

"I fell back. I never heard a gunshot," she said.

Canepa recalled hearing people talk about putting pressure on her head. Then she heard an ambulance siren and heard someone asking for her parents' telephone numbers.

Wesley Woodworth

The bullet had hit her face and shattered her right cheek bone before coming to rest against her carotid artery. That caused an aneurysm to form, she said.

"I'm not allowed to do anything that raises my blood pressure because it could cause the aneurysm to burst," Canepa testified as she cried quietly.

The 2002 Lodi High School graduate is now on medication for frequent headaches, on steroids to help her breathing and the vision in her right eye is now blurry, Canepa said. In addition, part of the right side of her face has no feeling.

Doctors decided not to remove the bullet, which is lodged beneath her ear, so it will stay inside her head for the rest of her life, Canepa said.

On June 6, she arrived at a party in the 1000 block of Harney Lane shortly before 10 p.m., she testified.

Approximately eight to 10 people were in a building adjacent to the house when Packer entered, Canepa said.

He allegedly grabbed another woman by the neck and went outside, and Canepa and her friends followed, she said.

One man hit Packer in the face, Canepa testified, and Packer then left the party.

Shortly after the incident, Packer called a friend, Jedidiah Bender, Bender testified in court Friday.

Just days before the Harney Lane incident, three armed men had broken into Bender's home near Highway 99 and threatened to kill the occupants if they went to the police, Bender said. For protection, he had borrowed a .40-caliber gun from Packer.

Minutes into the morning of June 7, Bender testified, Packer called and asked for the gun.

"He called me and told me to bring it to him," Bender said, adding that it sounded like Packer was upset and crying.

Bender and his girlfriend, Valerie Summers, met Packer and Woodworth outside their Hutchins Street apartment about 10 minutes later, Bender and Summers both testified.

As Woodworth stayed in the driver's seat of a white Chevy Camaro, Packer got the gun from Bender and allegedly told him that he was going to kill people who had beaten him up, Bender said.

The two vehicles were soon on their way to Harney Lane, where they drove past the house Packer had left 40 minutes earlier, then turned around, Summers said.

"I saw one arm go out the window, and I only remember the first four shots go off," Summers testified, later adding that the arm had a red sweatshirt sleeve on it - the same color as one allegedly worn by Packer that night.

The two vehicles then fled the scene and returned to the Hutchins Street apartment, where Packer told Bender to leave.

"He told me to get out of there, that a girl got hit in the face," Bender said.

That night, Packer stayed with Bender and Summers, where he washed a red sweatshirt, Summers testified.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's detectives arrested Woodworth the following day and then, thinking Packer might be armed and dangerous, released the 17-year-old's name to the public.

Packer turned himself in to authorities several days later. He is now being charged as an adult.

His family, including his mother and two grandmothers, cried as Warner ruled that prosecutors had presented enough evidence for the teenager to stand trial. Packer wiped his eyes and swallowed.

Moments later, Warner ruled that Woodworth will also stand trial.

Both he and Woodworth now face felony charges including attempted murder, assault with a firearm and shooting into an occupied residence. If convicted on all counts, they could be sentenced to life in prison.

Packer is being held in Peterson Juvenile Hall, while Woodworth remains in the county jail in French Camp. They will be arraigned in Stockton court Aug. 8.

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