A murder trial that began Friday will probe whether a Fresno shooting victim’s religious beliefs contributed to his death two years ago.
“Jehovah, Jehovah, I’m dying, I’m dying,” Omar Silva, a 36-year-old Jehovah’s Witness, told a Fresno police officer after he was shot four times at the front door of his home on East Hedges Avenue, south of Fresno City College.
After the officer assured Silva he would be fine because the bullet holes were small, Silva died during surgery after he refused a blood transfusion, said defense attorney Antonio Alvarez, who is defending the shooting suspect, David Quevedo, 26.
The shooting on Feb. 3, 2013 attracted instant notoriety when authorities said Quevedo, a San Francisco 49ers fan, went on a rampage after his team lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.
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In opening statements, Alvarez told a Fresno County Superior Court jury that Quevedo shot Silva. But Alvarez said Quevedo is not guilty of murder because Silva refused a blood transfusion that could have saved his life.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it is against God’s will to have a blood transfusion.
Prosecutor Gabriel Brickey told the jury Fresno County pathologist Michael Chambliss and Dr. Victor McCray will testify that even if Silva had received the transfusion, he would have died because one bullet hit his inferior vena cava, a major vein.
In asking for a first-degree murder conviction, Brickey told the jury Quevedo deliberately shot Silva in front of Silva’s 13-year-old daughter after getting into a fight with Silva’s brother. After the shooting, the girl picked Quevedo out of a police photo lineup, Brickey said.
Alvarez said his medical expert, Dr. David Posey, will testify in Judge Arlan Harrell’s courtroom that the blood transfusion would have given Silva a chance to live.
In addition to murder, Quevedo is charged with being a felon in possession of a handgun, and is accused of killing Silva to promote a criminal street gang. Brickey said Quevedo claims allegiance to the Bond Street Bulldogs and has the letter B tattooed on his right cheek.
If convicted of murder, Quevedo faces life in prison.
Court records say Quevedo has been to prison twice — in 2007 for felony battery of a custodial officer and in 2011 for taking someone’s property. He was on supervised release when he was arrested after the Silva shooting.
In starting the trial, Brickey said Silva was an innocent victim of gang violence.
Both sides agree that on Feb. 3, 2013, Quevedo became angry when the 49ers lost in the Super Bowl. Quevedo began to cause trouble at the game party near Silva’s home and was kicked out, Brickey said.
In the meantime, Arnold Silva went outside his brother’s home to smoke. Quevedo confronted Arnold Silva and asked him what gang he claimed. When Arnold Silva replied he was from Fresno, a fight broke out. The two men fought until Omar Silva broke up the altercation, Brickey said.
Before leaving, Quevedo, who was wearing a red 49ers jersey, shouted “Bond Street” and said “I’ll be back,” Brickey said.
Brickey told the jury a neighbor’s video surveillance camera captured the deadly encounter when Quevedo returned to Omar Silva’s home.
About 9:30 p.m., Omar Silva was with his wife and children when Quevedo knocked on the front door and asked to see Arnold Silva. One of the children, who was 13, answered the door and said her uncle was not home.
Omar Silva, who had just gotten out of the shower, approached the front door, wearing only a towel around his waist. Quevedo fired eight rounds toward Silva, Brickey said. Three shots hit Silva in the chest and one hit him in the back, the prosecutor said.
A body camera worn by an officer who responded to the shooting captured Silva’s words before he was rushed to the hospital. After saying “Jehovah” several times, Silva told police who shot him, Brickey told the jury. “Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Bond Street,” Silva said.
In defending Quevedo, Alvarez said the defendant fired through a metal security door with a .22-caliber firearm. Three of the shots were not life threatening, he told the jury.
Quevedo was arrested later that week by officers from the police department’s Street Violence Bureau.