Jurors watch video of suspect's changing story in Los Banos homicide trial

02/18/2014 7:24 PM

02/18/2014 7:25 PM

Jurors in the trial of homicide defendant Albert Hernandez viewed video recordings Tuesday in which the 18-year-old changed his story during interviews with Los Banos detectives many times, first claiming to know nothing about the death of Shane Moore, but later apologizing for killing Moore accidentally.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder and gang charges in connection with the March 4 shooting death of the 18-year-old Moore at a home in the the 800 block of La Mesa Lane in Los Banos.

A jury of nine women and three men heard testimony Tuesday in Merced County Superior Court before Judge Ronald W. Hansen. The trial began last week.

Hernandez was 17 at the time of the attack, but has been charged as an adult.

Detectives interviewed Hernandez for more than two hours after he was arrested March 22. The interrogation ends with Hernandez apologizing for the death and saying Moore was not the intended target, according to the recordings played Tuesday. Deputy District Attorney Thomas Min, the prosecutor in the case, played the entire interview for the jury.

“I’m sorry,” Hernandez tells police on the recording. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it.”

Outside the courtroom, Hernandez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Chris Loethen, questioned the detectives’ interrogation methods.

“How trustworthy are the allegedly incriminating statements of a 17-year-old boy given the particular tactics employed by the detectives and the length of the interrogation?” Loethen said. “There’s no eyewitness evidence.”

Min declined comment outside the courtroom.

During the recorded police interview, detectives tell Hernandez they have fingerprint and gunshot residue evidence linking him to the crime, although no such evidence exists, authorities have noted.

Detectives are also shown telling Hernandez other members of his gang have identified him as the shooter.

The recordings show detectives reading Hernandez his rights and asking him several times if he understands his rights before the interview begins. Detectives are seen giving Hernandez water and a restroom break and promising to arrange for Hernandez to speak with his mother.

The recordings show Hernandez initially denying knowing anything at all about Moore’s death other than what he “saw on the news.” A short time later, Hernandez said he was with the group responsible for the shooting shortly beforehand, but left the area. Later, the video recordings show he said he was at the scene, but another “tall guy” pulled the trigger.

Eventually, Hernandez acknowledges opening fire into the garage at suspected rival gang members and that Moore was struck inadvertently, the recordings show.

Moore was not involved with gangs and was moving into the home when the shooting started, police said.

Christopher Aguayo pleaded guilty Oct. 2 to being an accessory in the killing and was sentenced to seven years in the state Division of Juvenile Justice. Aguayo, 16, was also charged as an adult, according to court records.

Testimony resumes today at 1:30 p.m.

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