A hearing in Fresno County Superior Court began with a witness blurting out her feelings before the prosecutor could ask his first question.
“I hate you,” Valerie Sainz told Christian Angel Pacheco, who sat handcuffed in a red jail jumpsuit at the defense table.
The two-day hearing ended Wednesday with Judge Edward Sarkisian Jr. ordering Pacheco, 18, to stand trial in the killing of Sainz’s husband, 32-year-old Juan Ortiz, in October last year in Selma.
In his ruling, Sarkisian Jr. said there was “reasonable and probable cause” to believe that Pacheco committed first-degree murder when he shot an unarmed Ortiz to benefit or promote the Sureño criminal street gang’s standing in Selma.
First-degree murder is a willful, deliberate, premeditated killing. Sarkisian made his ruling after learning from a witness that Pacheco had planned the night before to shoot someone.
If convicted, Pacheco faces 50 years to life in prison.
I hate you.
Valerie Sainz told the defendant
Ortiz was shot on Mitchell Avenue near Nebraska Avenue around 3:20 p.m. Oct. 30 near Ringo Park. Police found seven bullet shell casings at the crime scene.
Selma police said Pacheco was arrested within five minutes of the killing after several witnesses identified him as the shooter. The murder weapon was recovered, police said.
Pacheco was 17 at the time of the shooting but is being tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the crime.
If convicted, Christian Angel Pacheco faces 50 years to life in prison.
In court Tuesday, prosecutor Gabriel Brickey said a coroner’s report revealed that Ortiz had been shot seven times. The bullets hit his head, both arms and his right leg, Brickey said.
Brickey then questioned Sainz, whose hatred of Pacheco was put on the record.
She testified that she and Ortiz have four children. In the afternoon of Oct. 30, Sainz said, she and Ortiz and their daughter left their Selma home to walk to a nearby school bus stop to pick up their son. Ortiz went along, she said, because he knew “it was a bad neighborhood.”
Sainz testified that she didn’t see Pacheco until he passed them on the sidewalk. She recalled that Pacheco stopped, turned around and asked Ortiz: “Hey fool, do you bang?” That was Pacheco’s way of asking Ortiz if he was in a gang.
According to Sainz, Ortiz replied that he belonged to the Northside Bulldogs, a bitter rival of the Sureños.
“I thought they were going to fight,” she testified, recalling that Pacheco pulled up his shirt and fixed the belt on his pants.
Instead of fighting, Pacheco pulled out a gun and shot Ortiz from less than 12 feet away, Sainz said.
“I saw him fall to the ground,” Sainz said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “He kept shooting at him.”
Pacheco will be arraigned on April 13. Until his trial, he will be held in the Fresno County Jail.