Wit­ness: Pal slain in flurry of shots

Tes­ti­mony starts in gang-tied case

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - DAVE HUGHES

FORT SMITH — Trey Miller told a Se­bas­tian County Cir­cuit Court jury Mon­day that he saw a man look in the door of his fa­ther’s trailer and then run away yelling ‘“shoot, shoot, shoot.’”

For the next 10 to 20 sec­onds the trailer was hit by a hail of gun­fire from two as­sault-style ri­fles that killed 18-year-old Justin Lopez. In the open­ing state­ment of Bryan Por­ras’ trial, deputy pros­e­cu­tor Scott Hous­ton told the jury of seven men and five women that Lopez was struck by one bul­let in the back of the head and prob­a­bly died in­stantly.

He said bal­lis­tics tests would show that a frag­ment of that bul­let re­moved from Lopez’s head was fired from an AR-15 ri­fle wielded by 20-yearold Por­ras.

Po­lice de­tec­tive Joseph Armer tes­ti­fied that he recorded find­ing 40 spent bul­let cas­ings and three un­fired bul­lets in the al­ley next to the trailer that was parked in the back­yard at 2315 N. Ninth St. on Jan. 14.

Por­ras is one of four mem­bers of the Slanga 96 gang who are charged in cir­cuit court with first-de­gree mur­der, eight counts of com­mit­ting a felony with a firearm and seven counts of com­mit­ting a ter­ror­is­tic act in Lopez’s death. Por­ras also is charged with be­ing a felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm.

Hous­ton told jurors that since all four were to­gether, they all were charged with the same crimes.

Por­ras is the first of the four to go on trial in Lopez’s death. Al­berto Chavez, 19, is sched­uled to go on trial Nov. 27; Ryan Ox­ford, 20, on Dec. 18; and Jorge Chiri­nos, 17, on Jan. 8, ac­cord­ing to cir­cuit court records.

Hous­ton said Chiri­nos would tes­tify for the pros­e­cu­tion that Por­ras was an­gry at Lopez, who was a mem­ber of the ri­val Clout Boys gang, for dis­re­spect­ing the Slanga gang. He will tes­tify that the four went to a wed­ding re­cep­tion and ques­tioned guests about Lopez’s where­abouts, then drove to Ninth Street where the trailer was parked, Hous­ton said.

Por­ras’ at­tor­ney, David Du­na­gin of Fort Smith, told jurors that Chiri­nos ini­tially told po­lice he was drunk that night and didn’t know what they were talk­ing about.

Miller tes­ti­fied that he and Lopez were hang­ing out in his fa­ther’s trailer drink­ing and smok­ing mar­i­juana be­tween 9:40 p.m. and 10 p.m. when he saw the lights of a car ap­proach down the al­ley.

He said Lopez grabbed a pump shot­gun next to the open door of the trailer when they heard some­one ap­proach. Lopez “racked” a round into the cham­ber when no one re­sponded to his chal­lenge for the per­son to iden­tify him­self.

That’s when, Miller said, he heard some­one yell to shoot. Miller said he crouched un­der the sink in the trailer’s bath­room. He suf­fered a slight in­jury from a bul­let frag­ment or fly­ing de­bris.

Lopez ran to the bed­room in the section clos­est to the al­ley and the gun­fire, Miller said. Po­lice counted more than 20 holes in the trailer.

Miller said that when the shoot­ing stopped, he heard “whoop­ing and hol­ler­ing and cel­e­brat­ing” from out­side.

Miller stayed hid­den for about 90 sec­onds be­fore emerg­ing from the bath­room, he said. He went out­side and called for Lopez, but re­ceived no re­sponse. Re-en­ter­ing the trailer, he said, he heard Lopez’s gur­gling breath­ing through the blood and dragged Lopez from the bed­room.

Hous­ton told jurors that State Crime Lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cians were able to match shell cas­ings found at the scene to the AR-15 ri­fle found in Por­ras’ apart­ment and the AK-47 found in Ox­ford’s home.

Tes­ti­mony in the case is to re­sume at 9 a.m. to­day.

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