By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
Homicide defendant Robert Macias took the stand in court Monday, denying any involvement in the shooting death of a 19-year-old city man a little more than a year ago.
After brief questioning by defense attorney James Klipstine Jr., District Attorney Matt Chandler grilled the defendant regarding his account of events the night Wilfred Salas Jr., 19, was shot while driving on Merriwether Street.
Macias, 31, who is charged with first-degree murder, testified while he did know Salas, he was asleep at a friend’s home when the shooting occurred.
Earlier, defense witness Leila Harpold and her daughters testified Macias was sleeping at their home the morning in question.
“He was frustrated but he was more drunk than anything. He was passed out, you could hear him snoring,” said Harpold, a longtime friend of Macias and his wife Angelina.
Prosecution witness Daniel Garcia testified last week he was with Macias when the defendant shot and killed Salas.
Chandler also questioned Macias about taped phone conversations he had from jail with Garcia, his wife, Angelina Macias, and others.
In each instance, Chandler read excerpts from transcripts, proving, he said, Macias was trying to influence statements to police, get his story straight with other witnesses, or get others to dispose of evidence for him from his jail cell.
Macias said he did not remember the conversations.
“I don’t remember the first part of the telephone call, how I’m I going to remember the rest?” he said at one point.
Macias said other witnesses had lied on the stand and said Garcia was the shooter, not him.
“Since I’ve been sitting over there, I’ve seen plenty of people get on the stand and lie,” Macias said.
“Mr. Macias, it’s going to be your testimony one way or the other that you didn’t shoot Wilfred Salas?” Chandler asked.
“The person who did that has already been on the stand,” Macias said, muttering Daniel Garcia’s name.
The defense rested its case after Macias’ testimony.
The prosecution told the judge it plans to call one more rebuttal witness this morning before final arguments begin.
Before Klipstine presented a defense, he asked Judge Joe Parker to direct verdict of acquittal outside the presence of the jury.
After listening to statements from both sides, Parker ruled the trial should continue.
“I take note of what Mr. Klipstine has said,” Parker said. “In this instance unfortunately all the witnesses gave some room for a desire to have more credibility.”