By JOSH NEWTON
Neighbors who claim they saw a man shoot and kill his brother-in-law at a Tahlequah home last June told jurors Wednesday the victim had encouraged the shooter not to fire shots while a family get-together was occurring next door.
Maria Marquez and Rigoberto Cantu lived next door to 30-year-old Juan Carlos Caballero when Caballero allegedly shot and killed 35-year-old Carlos Manuel Ulloa-Redondo.
Marquez and Cantu both testified they saw Caballero fire the first shot at Redondo. They said that as more shots were fired, they began to run toward a truck parked in front of their house, and they eventually sought shelter in their home, but continued to watch from a back window.
Marquez testified Redondo had been telling Caballero “to not do that” when Caballero fired a shot into the air. Caballero was upset over the music being played at a family gathering at Marquez’s and Cantu’s home, where children were playing.
“[Caballero] just said that [Redondo] couldn’t tell him what to do,” Marquez testified through a translator.
Caballero then shot Redondo, Marquez said, and Redondo’s body fell in the front doorway. Several more shots were heard; Cantu said his family heard five shots total.
“[Caballero told Redondo] ‘nobody needs to tell me what to do,’ and shot him,” Cantu said.
Cantu said Caballero shot twice before his firearm seemed to run out of ammunition. Later, several more shots were fired.
Cantu, Marquez and their son drove to the police station in Tahlequah to report the shooting.
Prosecutors also called to the stand the owner of the home where Caballero was living when the shooting occurred. She testified that Caballero was not paying rent, but had been painting, mowing the yard and doing other work on the home instead. After the shooting, the property owners sent a friend to the home to lock its gate and doors, and board up the windows.
About three months later, Tahlequah Detective Chris Boals contacted the property owners and asked if he could search the house.
Boals testified Wednesday that a man who had been asked to spray the house for roaches noticed two guns – a 9 mm and 38 revolver – tucked beneath the shower. The man who discovered the guns told jurors he had bent over and was using his flashlight beneath the shower when he saw the guns.
Boals said authorities had only recovered a 45-caliber Hi-Point handgun when they were at the house in June 2013, but also collected shell casings from a 9 mm handgun and 38-caliber, which had not been found during initial searches.
Boals told jurors he was assigned as the lead detective from the Tahlequah Police Department and responded around 2:40 a.m. He looked around the scene and left to secure a search warrant.
About six hours later, Boals met with Caballero, and Boals and Detective Elden Graves transported the suspect to jail. Boals told jurors Caballero made two statements while en route.
“He said that sometimes, people just push you too far,” Boals said. “He told Graves and I that we did a good job.”
When Caballero’s attorney, Angie Jones, questioned Boals over his interviews with Caballero’s ex-girlfriend, Liliana Landaverde, Jones asked whether Landaverde – who was at the home when Redondo was killed – ever said she was afraid of Caballero after the shooting.
Boals said Landaverde never claimed she was scared of Caballero, but the detective felt Landaverde was “generally uncooperative” during interviews. Landaverde gave “several accounts” of the shooting, and Boals told jurors he believed Landaverde was being “deceptive” in some of her answers.
“It didn’t seem like she wanted to come forth with all the information,” Boals said.
Landaverde admitted during her Tuesday testimony that she lied when questioned by detectives last year. She claimed she was afraid of causing trouble for Caballero, whom she had dated for about six months. She admitted she told authorities Caballero was acting in self-defense.
Joshua Lanter, a medical examiner and forensic pathologist with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, told jurors an autopsy of Redondo’s body revealed five gunshot wounds. One bullet wound entered the right side of Redondo’s head and exited behind the left ear. Lanter testified that wound was consistent with being a close-contact gunshot.
A second bullet entered on the side of Redondo’s right shoulder, passing through his chest and a lung before lodging in the body. The remnants of that bullet were recovered. A third bullet entered the right lower chest of Redondo and also stopped inside the body. Lanter said that bullet was recovered.
Lanter said a fourth bullet hit the left, lower chest of Redondo, and appeared to be similar to a “graze” wound with a similar trajectory to the other wounds – traveling left, upward and backward through Redondo’s body. The fifth bullet was to the left forearm of Redondo.
Lanter testified that because Redondo was wearing clothes when he was shot, Lanter is unable to make a formal determination as to whether the four shots below Redondo’s head were fired from a gun within close proximity.
Testimony in Caballero’s first-degree murder trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. today.