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Victim’s boyfriend identifies suspect as shooter

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Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 12:00 am

An 18-year-old Lodi man recalled that he was hugging his girlfriend of a year and a half when he heard the car pass by.

At the intersection of Pine and Garfield streets, just a few feet away, it stopped. The man looked up and watched someone emerge from the passenger seat holding a long object, he said.

“I just froze,” the man said. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

The man approached the couple and stopped a short distance away. Illuminated by the streetlights, he recognized Miguel Araiza Jr. holding a rifle in his hands, the witness said.

The trial of 18-year-old Araiza, of Lodi, who faces several criminal charges, including murder, attempted murder, possession of methamphetamine and a special enhancement of committing murder for the benefit of a street gang, entered its second day Friday.

Araiza, who has been held for 20 months in San Joaquin County Jail, appeared in the same outfit he wore Thursday — a green, untucked, collared shirt and khaki pants. At times, he turned toward the audience and smiled at the news media.

On his second day of testimony in San Joaquin County Superior Court in front of Judge William Johnson, the 18-year-old witness identified Araiza as the gunman who wounded him and killed his girlfriend, 18-year-old Angelica Osorio, as the couple returned home from a date in March of last year.

“He pointed the gun at us and asked where I was from,” Osorio’s boyfriend said on Friday. Deputy District Attorney Janey Smith has requested that Osorio’s boyfriend not be identified for his own safety.

He told the gunman he didn’t want any trouble, then ran, screaming for help, he said.

Osorio’s boyfriend said he heard the gunman shout, “(Expletive) you, scrap,” before shots rang out.

It was revealed that Osorio’s boyfriend and Araiza attended Lodi Middle School together when Smith showed the witness a yearbook from his eighth grade school year.

Osorio’s boyfriend said the two men were associated with rival gangs — Araiza with the Norteños, and Osorio’s boyfriend with the Sureños. However, he never had any interactions with Araiza in middle school, he said.

On Thursday, Osorio’s boyfriend said he left the gang life in high school shortly after he began dating Osorio.

Defense attorney Jennifer Perkins questioned the 18-year-old’s recollection of the suspect. She asked if he could remember if the gunman’s hair was long or short, if he had facial hair or whether he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, to which Osorio’s boyfriend replied that he couldn’t remember.

He said he only focused on the gunman’s face.

“You think it was the Miguel you went to middle school (with)?” Perkins asked.

“I know it was (Araiza),” Osorio’s boyfriend replied.

The trial is scheduled to continue Monday and is expected to conclude in the middle of December.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@ lodinews.com.

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