Wit­ness tes­ti­fies, ad­mits be­ing ‘scared’

The Signal - - Front page - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer

A Ne­whall woman who con­fessed to be­ing a mem­ber of a gang tes­ti­fied at the mur­der trial of her ex-boyfriend Fri­day that, de­spite be­ing scared for her life, she’s telling pros­e­cu­tors the truth about what hap­pened the day a ri­val gang mem­ber was shot and killed.

Jaque­line Arre­ola, 25, took the wit­ness stand at San Fer­nando Su­pe­rior Court Fri­day as pros­e­cu­tors con­tin­ued with their case against Ni­cholas Col­letta, 21, who’s charged with mur­der in last year’s shooting death of Ivan So­lis.

Arre­ola, who was ini­tially charged with mur­der in the same shooting, pleaded guilty ear­lier this year to the lesser charge of be­ing an ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact, agree­ing to work with pros­e­cu­tors and tes­tify against Col­letta.

Arre­ola and Col­letta, who ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony al­ready given were mem­bers of the Brown Fa­milia gang, were also boyfriend and girl­friend at the

be­gin­ning of last year.

Col­letta, with a shaved head, wear­ing a black suit jacket over a white shirt, sat with­out shift­ing at a ta­ble with his at­tor­ney, about a car-length away from the woman tes­ti­fy­ing against him.

Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Adan Mon­tal­ban asked Arre­ola, with her ex­pe­ri­ence as a gang mem­ber, if she un­der­stood the term “snitch­ing.”

Show­ing no fa­cial ex­pres­sion, she an­swered: “To tell on some­body.”

Mon­tal­ban then asked her how snitch­ing turns out for peo­ple who do that.

“Bad,” she told him and the jurors. “What can hap­pen?” Mon­tal­ban asked her. “You get killed,” Arre­ola said.

As the pros­e­cu­tor pressed the point about her tes­ti­fy­ing against Col­letta, she told him: “I don’t want to go to jail for some­thing I didn’t do.” “Are you scared?” he asked her. “Yeah,” she said in a faint, but steady voice. Are you scared some­thing will hap­pen to you? “Yes,” she said, a lit­tle louder and firmer. Mon­tal­ban sug­gested to Arre­ola sev­eral times that her “only obli­ga­tion was to tell the truth” and each time Arre­ola agreed with him.

Pros­e­cu­tors re­ferred sev­eral times to printed tran­scripts of the tes­ti­mony she gave dur­ing Col­letta’s pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in April.

At that hear­ing, she tes­ti­fied she saw Col­letta “pull out a gray gun and shoot So­lis” at Be­go­nias Lane Park on July 11, 2017.

At one point early in her tes­ti­mony Fri­day, Arre­ola said. “I re­gret be­ing there that day,” re­fer­ring to the Be­go­nias Lane Park.

Also called to the wit­ness stand Fri­day were two sworn of­fi­cers of the Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion.

A deputy called to the stand said she re­cov­ered five .40-cal­iber shell cas­ings in the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

De­tec­tive Mark Bar­retto, a 19-year vet­eran with the SCV Sher­iff’s Sta­tion who was also called to tes­tify, de­scribed his ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing dealt with and hav­ing ar­rested gang mem­bers in the Santa Clarita Val­ley.

Mon­tal­ban asked him how many peo­ple were mem­bers of gangs in the Santa Clarita Val­ley, and Bar­retto told him be­tween 45 and 50, in­clud­ing those in­car­cer­ated.

Asked if Brown Fa­milia and Ne­whall 13 were ri­val SCV gangs, he said: “Bit­ter ri­vals.”

The trial is ex­pected to con­tinue next week.

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