Attorneys provided opening statements on Thursday in the trial of a Lodi man accused of killing an 18-year-old woman and wounding her boyfriend as the couple arrived home from a date in March of last year.
Miguel Araiza Jr., 18, who has spent 20 months in San Joaquin County Jail, faces several criminal charges stemming from a shooting that killed Angelica Osorio of Lodi, including murder, attempted murder, possession of methamphetamine, and a special allegation of committing murder to benefit a street gang.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Janet Smith argued that the shooting, which took place in front of Osorio’s home on South Garfield Street on March 10, 2012, happened because Osorio’s boyfriend used to associate with Araiza’s rival gang.
According to Smith, when Osorio and her boyfriend of 18 months arrived home, Araiza pulled up and confronted the boyfriend. As an argument escalated, Araiza pulled out a rifle and shot the boyfriend multiple times and Osorio once, Smith said.
In her opening statement, defense attorney Jennifer Perkins said police detectives made several errors during the course of the investigation, including errors in identifying the suspected motive and the individuals officers believe are associated with the shooting.
“This case is going to be about mistakes,” she said. “The mistakes made ... have influenced who was arrested.”
Araiza sat beside Perkins throughout the day, dressed in a collared shirt and khaki pants. At one point, Araiza turned toward a member of the news media and gave a thumbs-up sign.
Three witnesses testified Thursday, including Osorio’s boyfriend, who said he attended Lodi Middle School with Araiza.
The boyfriend, who never looked at the defendant during his 20 minutes of testimony, said the two men didn’t have any interactions in middle school, but he believed Araiza was a Norteño gang member.
The boyfriend admitted to associating with several members of the rival Sureño street gang and even fighting Norteño gang members, but he said he was never an official Sureño member.
The boyfriend said he stopped associating with gang members in high school, shortly after he started dating Osorio.
“She made me open my eyes,” he said. “That was a very stupid thing.”
Judge William Johnson decided to adjourn court for the day during the boyfriend’s testimony. The trial will continue this morning and is expected to continue into the middle of December.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.