Three juveniles are charged as adults in connection with the killing of a 59-year-old Clovis man who was picking up a 16-year-old prostitute when he was fatally shot in central Fresno in January.
Zachary Goodwin, who turned 17 this month, was the first of the defendants to have a preliminary hearing. Fresno County Superior Court Judge John Vogt ruled Monday that Goodwin will stand trial on charges of murder, attempted robbery and shooting at an occupied vehicle.
Vogt made his ruling after a Fresno police detective testified that Goodwin left a fingerprint on the magazine of the handgun that killed Michael Nicky Der Vartanian, a commercial airline pilot.
Detective Victor Miranda also said one of Goodwin’s accomplices, a 14-year-old boy, gave police a detailed account of the killing and identified Goodwin as the gunman.
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If convicted of murder, Goodwin faces at least 50 years to life in prison.
Fresno police detective Victor Miranda testified that one of Zachary Goodwin’s accomplices, a 14-year-old boy, gave police a detailed account of the killing and identified Goodwin as the gunman.
The 14-year-old is being tried as a minor. His criminal proceedings are confidential.
Goodwin’s other alleged accomplices, Eddie Nathan Martinez and April Ahjanae Amey, both 16, also are being tried as adults on the same charges that Goodwin faces, court records say. Their preliminary hearings are pending.
Prosecutor Sam Dalesandro said the slaying of Der Vartanian happened during the early afternoon of Jan. 15 near Belmont Avenue and Fresno Street. A mortally wounded Der Vartanian caused a three-car crash after he was shot inside his black Mercedes while he tried to get away, police said.
After the shooting, police found four shell casings. The gun was stolen the night before by three male juvenile defendants, Miranda testified.
According to Miranda, Amey was working as a prostitute at Belmont Avenue and Mariposa Street west of Highway 41 when Goodwin and Martinez and the 14-year-old approached her and asked her to assist in a robbery.
Once the defendants assured Amey that she would not get hurt or robbed, Amey agreed to set up the victim, whom she had been with before, Miranda said.
On the witness stand, the detective recounted what he said the 14-year-old told him: Der Vartanian showed up in a black Mercedes at Madison Avenue and Mariposa Street and Amey walked toward the passenger side of the car.
Goodwin followed 4 feet behind her. Once Amey got into the car, Goodwin walked around the front of the car and up to the driver’s side door. As he was doing this, he was pulling out a silver handgun.
Zachary Goodwin, who turned 17 this month, is behind bars at the Juvenile Justice Campus south of Fresno. His bail is $2.78 million.
Der Vartanian hit the gas pedal when he saw the gun pointed at him. Gunfire erupted, the detective said.
Bullets hit Der Vartanian in the upper torso and left shoulder. He sped toward Fresno Street, where he clipped a car, causing that car to spin. The Mercedes then slammed into another car.
Der Vartanian was taken by ambulance to Community Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries. Amey ran from the scene and tried to board a bus on Olive Avenue, but was soon apprehended and treated at Community Regional for injuries suffered in the crash, police said.
Goodwin, Martinez and the 14-year-old also ran, but were later apprehended in the nearby neighborhood east of Highway 41 near Washington and First streets.
Miranda said police found the murder weapon on the ground on the 3000 block of East Washington. The state Department of Justice later found Goodwin’s thumbprint on the magazine, Miranda testified.
Goodwin is behind bars at the Juvenile Justice Campus south of Fresno. His bail is $2.78 million. Martinez and Amey also are in custody at the juvenile detention campus. Their bail is $1.2 million each.