The sentencing of Jesus Manuel Rodriguez, 23, of Patterson, and Edgar Barajas, 24, of Modesto is postponed until March 10, when prosecutors will answer the motions in open court, according to Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley.
Both Rodriguez and Barajas were convicted in May for participating in the drive-by killing of then-17-year-old Ernestina Tizoc in Modesto’s Oregon Park. The two face 50 years to life in prison for being convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a street gang.
Defense attorneys Robert Winston for Rodriguez and Ernie Spokes for Barajas entered separate new trial motions last week in the matter.
Winston could not be reached for comment; however, Spokes said this week that Winston’s motion couldn’t be discussed because it contains confidential sealed material.
As for his motion regarding Barajas, Spokes said he wants testimony from police that allegedly came from Rodriguez and incriminated Barajas to be thrown out, as it is hearsay, he said. Police have testified during the trial that Barajas was driving the vehicle used at the time of the crime.
Defense attorneys have a right to cross-examine witness statements, but because Rodriguez opted to exercise his constitutional Fifth Amendment right against taking the witness stand, the information should be dismissed, Spokes said.
“Any accomplice testimony regarding Mr. Barajas should be redacted,” Spokes said.
Spokes also said it was not possible for Barajas to shoot from the place that prosecutors say he did because testimony by five prosecution and three defense witnesses placed the victim in the wrong direction to receive bullet wounds on the right side of her chest.
“She would’ve had to have jumped 180 degrees,” Spokes said.
Calls to Deputy District Attorney Tom Brennan, the prosecutor in the case were not returned this week.