Former gang leader testifies in murder trial


By Samantha Yale Scroggin/
September 20,2012

A Guadalupe man charged with murder is a high-ranking local gang member who supervised a unit of cells at the Santa Barbara County Jail, according to a man who used to be an even higher-ranking gang leader.

The witness took the stand for the prosecution Wednesday during the Santa Maria jury trial of Alejandro Carrillo, 29, who is charged with murdering fellow Guadalupe resident Pedro Gonzalez, 32, on Feb. 14, 2010.

Gonzalez’s body was found in a Nipomo broccoli field near the side of Bonita School Road early the next morning by an employee of San Ysidro Farms, which owns property nearby.

The trial before Superior Court Judge James Rigali started last week.

Evidence has been presented that Carrillo killed Gonzalez during a scuffle in the garage of a Guadalupe home, then transported his body in a vehicle to the broccoli field, where it was dumped.

Carrillo has also been charged with drug transportation and possession for sale because deputies allegedly found drugs on him in March 2011, while he was in Santa Barbara County Jail.

Wednesday’s gang witness, whose name is not being released for his protection, testified calmly and clearly about the politics among gang members at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

A former Santa Barbara gang member, the witness said under questioning from Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen he had been a “house manager” at the jail when he served a stint at the facility between prison stays.

Due to his cooperation with law enforcement and the prosecution, the man can no longer associate with his former gang and risks being killed for helping police, he said.

According to the witness, Carrillo performed duties at the jail for the gang that included checking inmates’ court documents and police reports pertaining to their case to see who was “snitching,” for informing law enforcement, on gang activities.

Carrillo also provided input to the witness on decisions involving leadership of the gangs at the jail, according to the testimony.
The witness said Carrillo brought drugs into the jail, told gang leaders who was in poor standing with the gang and told inmates if their cellmates were in poor standing so those inmates could assault their cellmates.

The witness also testified that one jail inmate told another that Carrillo had “smoked,” or killed, someone.

Deputy Public Defender Steven Rice asked the witness about his motivation to testify for the prosecution.
The witness acknowledged that the prosecution made a verbal agreement indicating if he cooperated, he could receive lesser punishment for crimes he was convicted of.

According to his testimony, several incidents in the witness’s past left him at risk for retaliation from his former gang associates if he returned to prison.

Under questioning by Bramsen, however, the witness said the prosecution made him no guarantees other than his testimony wouldn’t be used against him.

“Is it fair to say that hope is what keeps you going?” Bramsen asked.
“Yes,” the witness replied.

Testimony continues today in Carrillo’s trial, which is expected to last about five weeks.

Former gang leader testifies in murder trial