Eight years ago, Nath Ouch -- eight months pregnant and holding a pot of soup -- was shot in the back and killed as she and relatives left a southeast Fresno apartment complex across from Easterby School.
Tuesday, a trial began for a Fresno gang member who is accused of killing her.
In Fresno County Superior Court, Jose Angel Perez Jr., 29, is charged with murdering 20-year-old Ouch during the early hours of Feb. 1, 2006, near Tulare and Peach avenues.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
In opening statements of the trial, prosecutor Jeff Dupras and defense attorney Peter Jones agreed that Ouch was an innocent victim caught in a gang war between the Tiny Rascal Gang (TRG) and the Asians Boyz (ABZ).
The lawyers also agreed that Perez is a member of the Asian Boyz and the apartment complex where Ouch was killed was a TRG hangout.
What's in dispute is whether Perez intended to kill Ouch.
Jones told the jury that Perez was too drunk and high on Ecstasy to know what he was doing. His intent was to spray the apartment complex with bullets -- not kill anyone, Jones said.
In addition, Ouch and her unborn baby were killed by single bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle, he said.
Sokmorn Chea, the ABZ member who fired 30 rounds from an AK-47, was convicted in 2007 of killing Ouch. He is serving life in prison without parole.
But Dupras told the jury that Perez is just as guilty as Chea, saying both men hid in the dark at Easterby School and waited for their enemies to leave the apartment complex. "He was lying in wait," Dupras said.
The trial will dig into the Southeast Asian gang culture, where members have relatives in rival gangs and not everyone is Southeast Asian.
To make their job easier, jurors were given a scorecard that lists the names of witnesses as well as their nicknames. Those monikers include Sleepy, Bizzy, Bumper, G-Banks, Uzi, Toss, and Puppet.
Ouch was not a gang member, but her 24-year-old husband, Chanbory Nop, was associated with the Tiny Rascal Gang, the lawyers said. He shot himself in an apparent suicide two weeks after her death.
In addition to Chea, several other ABZ members are doing long prison terms for their roles in the attack.
Perez is the last defendant to have his trial because he fled to Mexico after the shooting. He stayed there five years until FBI agents, with help from Mexican authorities, arrested him.
At the time of the killing, Perez had ABZ in large letters tattooed on one of his shoulders. When he was arrested, a large cross was tattooed over ABZ.
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