VISTA (CNS) - A witness testified Tuesday that he saw three people in hooded sweatshirts running away after hearing gunshots outside his window near Libby Lake Park in Oceanside, where two teenagers were murdered last spring.
Brian Perkins took the stand as a preliminary hearing for AL'C Bejaran, Justin Gibson, Kenneth Hamilton and Tyrone Blackmon got under way at the Vista Courthouse.
The defendants, all gang members, are charged in the May 3 shooting deaths of 14-year-old Sandra Salgado and 16-year-old Fernando Solano, who were dating, according to relatives.
Bejaran and Gibson, both 19, and Hamilton, 34, are charged with two counts of murder. Blackmon, 29, is charged with being an accessory to the crime.
Perkins, who lived in an apartment complex next to the park, testified that he was watching a television newcast just after 10 p.m. when he heard gunfire. He said he went out to his porch and saw three people running down a hill, which was located on the other side of a lake.
The witness said the trio ran around the southern edge of the lake, and he lost sight of two of them. Seconds later, one of the three ran by the front of Perkins' apartment as he went out to walk his dog, he testified.
Perkins said he couldn't identify any of the people he saw running from the crime scene.
Oceanside police Officer Anis Trabelsi said he smelled gunpowder when he responded to a "shots fired" call the night of the killings. He said he found the victims' bodies after walking halfway up the hill on the eastern side of the lake.
Trabelsi said Solano was sitting in a chair and Salgado was lying next to him, face-down in the dirt.
The officer said he asked his partner to check for a pulse, and his partner responded "I think they're both deceased," Trabelsi testified.
Trabelsi said he and other officers searched a nearby elementary school, but found no suspects.
Investigators have not established a motive for the killings. The slain teens, both of whom lived in Oceanside, had no known gang ties, said Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata.
Bejaran faces 101 years to life in prison if convicted. He was in custody at Donovan State Prison when he was charged with the murders.
Gibson and Hamilton face 51 years to life in prison if convicted.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, which is expected to last three to four days, Judge Harry Elias will determine if enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.
Sixteen people and at least one dog fled from a burning home Wednesday morning in the Oak Park neighborhood just minutes before the house became fully engulfed in flames, authorities said.
The Carlsbad City Council on Tuesday denied the Planning Commission’s approval for a liquor license at K1 Speed, the indoor go-kart racing company, but did approve a restaurant.
The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.
A federal judge who has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump's scorn on Tuesday urged a quick trial for a Mexican man who had been shielded from being deported from the U.S. and claims he was wrongly expelled.
Solarte homered and drove in a career-high six runs, Austin Hedges also went deep and the San Diego Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals 12-4 on Tuesday night.
A 9-year-old boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties after being abducted by his father, who was suspected of first killing the child's mother, was located safe Tuesday.
Four community meetings will be held in San Diego to take public input on selection of a new police chief, the city announced Tuesday.
Many watchers of Monday's solar eclipse may have glanced at the sun without proper eye protection, if only for a brief moment. This can be dangerous, as looking directly at the sun can cause eye damage.