Witnesses testify against man charged with murder

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Two men who pleaded guilty to various crimes testified Sept. 5 against a man on trial for the murder of Leticia Arroyo who was shot to death in her Santee town home in 2016.

The trial of Jose Nunez Torres, 23, continues this week before a seven-woman, five-man jury and Judge Evan Kirvin in El Cajon Superior Court.

The man who drove the getaway car moments after Torres allegedly killed Arroyo, 34, testified. His name is not being released as he has received threats, according to his attorney, Gloria Collins.

Two men who pleaded guilty to various crimes testified Sept. 5 against a man on trial for the murder of Leticia Arroyo who was shot to death in her Santee town home in 2016.

The trial of Jose Nunez Torres, 23, continues this week before a seven-woman, five-man jury and Judge Evan Kirvin in El Cajon Superior Court.

The man who drove the getaway car moments after Torres allegedly killed Arroyo, 34, testified. His name is not being released as he has received threats, according to his attorney, Gloria Collins.

The driver, who was 21 years old on Oct. 4, 2016, testified he was unaware of facts about the murder until he was arrested on Aug. 15, 2018 by sheriff’s deputies.

Dressed in blue jail clothes, the witness said Torres asked him “do you want to get high?” before asking him to come with him.

The witness said Torres had him drive to a location in Santee and park. Torres then left.

“I thought he was going to bring me some meth,” said the witness.

While parked, he heard a loud gunshot, the witness said. “I’m wondering what is going on,” he said.

Torres returned to the car with some blood on him and had four bags of meth.

The driver said he pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and he faces a maximum term of three years in prison.

Gustavo Ceron, 26, told the jury he pleaded guilty to robbing a man in his La Jolla home with Torres. Ceron said Torres usedscissors to cut the screen of the kitchen window and climbed inside on Oct. 12, 2016.

Ceron said he saw Torres point a gun at the head of the homeowner in the 7:57 a.m. incident. He described the victim as “really scared.”

Ceron had no information on the murder as it occurred seven days before he met Torres.

Ceron was arrested in February 2017, and remains in jail pending sentencing on Nov. 9. Torres also remains in jail.

Torres has pleaded not guilty. If the jury convicts Torres of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait and committing a murder during a robbery and burglary, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Man accused of killing baby

A murder trial opened Sept. 5 against an Alpine man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 20-month-old son, who suffered from a massive head injury.

Brett Brown, 31, is accused of killing Lucas Orlando, who was the son of Renee Fournier, 30, also of Alpine. He is also charged with assault upon a child.

“Hold him accountable as to what he did to that little boy,” said Deputy District Attorney Chantal De Mauregne to the jury in her opening statement. “That man took Lucas’ life. He hadn’t even had his second birthday. This was a man Lucas trusted.”

The prosecutor told the nine-woman, three-man jury and El Cajon Superior Court Judge John Thompson the victim suffered from a fractured skull and a broken leg.

Brown’s attorney, Stephen Cline, told jurors Brown was holding Lucas when he had “a bad stumble” and fell down on top of the boy. Cline said he called 911, and paramedics took him to a hospital.

He told jurors the case “doesn’t make sense” and Brown was taking care of his own two children as well as Fournier’s other child at the time. Brown was in the Navy, but was out on leave when the boy was injured on Jan. 11, 2016 in his Arnold Way apartment.

Brown told paramedics that Lucas was jumping on the couch and fell off, which caused his injuries.

Fournier was supportive of Brown until she was charged with felony child endangerment, said Cline, after which “Her tune changed.”

Fournier pleaded guilty to child endangerment and she testified Friday against Brown.

She is awaiting sentencing and free on bond. The charge is likely to be reduced to a misdemeanor and she faces up to one year in jail.

De Mauregne told jurors the children’s daycare operator noticed bruises on the boy before his death.

Brown has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail without bail.