Prosecutors lay out timeline in Salas case

By Sharna Johnson, Freedom New Mexico

The prosecution used a parade of people Tuesday to place Edward Salas and four others at the apartment complex where 10-year-old Carlos Perez was shot and killed more than two years ago.

Jurors heard about 7 1/2 hours of testimony from six witnesses in the second day of trial of Salas, 23, who is charged with first-degree murder.

Prosecutors spent the day working to create a timeline and outline the planning and interaction between multiple players in the Sept. 15, 2005, shooting.

The defense countered, tirelessly pressing each witness on their drug use, inconsistent statements, admitted lies and uncertainty of times and details.

When Krystal Anson met with defense attorney Stephen McIlwain’s scrutiny regarding her drug use and who supplied her drugs, she became defiant. “I’m sorry, what does this have to do with anything?” she asked.

District Attorney Matt Chandler quickly objected to the questioning and Judge Teddy Hartley supported the objection, forcing McIlwain to take another direction.

It was one of many times defense strategy met with objections from prosecutors, who said McIlwain was being argumentative or belaboring points and going down rabbit trails.

Likewise, McIlwain raised numerous objections throughout the day as prosecutors tried to coax witnesses into recalling statements they had made in the past.

At the lunch hour, McIlwain loudly objected when law enforcement told Edward Salas his lunch had been brought from the jail in the presence of the jury. The defense attorney said reference to the jail was highly prejudicial to jurors.

Hartley denied the objection, saying he hadn’t heard the remark and doubted the jury had either.

The trial is expected to take the rest of the week, Hartley has said.

In addition to first-degree murder, Salas is charged with attempted murder, shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, two counts of bribery or intimidation of a witness, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to shooting at a dwelling or occupied building.

If convicted he faces a minimum of life in prison.

Highlights from Tuesday’s testimony:
Melissa Sanchez said on the night of the shooting she pointed out the apartment where Ruben Perez — the older brother of Carlos Perez and the intended target according to police — lived. Orlando Salas — Edward’s younger brother, who has already been convicted in the case — and Sanchez were dropped off at a residence by Demetrio Salas and David Griego, who have also been convicted in the case.
Demetrio Salas and Griego returned a few minutes later looking “like they were all hyped up,” she said.
Demetrio Salas had a gun, a “duce duce” or 22 caliber revolver and said “We just blasted up that sewer rat’s house,” she said.
Sanchez cried when she recalled how they heard ambulance crews on a police scanner talking about a 10-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the temple.
“I didn’t want no part of it, I wanted to go home,” she said, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

Ashley Garcia, 19, testified she and the girlfriend of Noe Torres — another charged in the case — drove Torres and Edward Salas to the apartment complex where the Perez family lived that night.
Torres had asked them to take him to run an errand and had promised the girls methamphetamine in return, she said.
Garcia said she saw Torres and Edward Salas meet with others near the Perez’ apartment building and shake hands before they disappeared.
While waiting in a nearby park, she heard a series of gunshots and Torres and Edward Salas returning to the vehicle.
When they got in the car, “I got all hysterical and was crying and (Noe) got mad at me and told me to shut up and turned the music up,” she said.

Krystal Anson, 18, testified she was 15 at the time of the shooting and had a relationship with Torres. He would often call her for rides, she said.
Ashley Garcia drove Anson, Edward Salas and Torres in Anson’s vehicle the night of the shooting, she said.
She said she heard seven to nine shots and Torres and Salas came running from the building and they all got in the vehicle with Torres driving.
“They just told us when they got back in the car to keep our mouths shut,” she said.
“I kept on asking them what happened and they just kept saying be quiet.”
She said she was scared to tell the police her story and lied initially because she was afraid if they would do what they did for their little brother, Orlando Salas, she wondered what they would do to her.

Stephanie Cruz testified Garcia and Anson frequently baby-sat her four children.
She said the morning of the shooting they came to her home and she noticed Garcia seemed depressed but said Anson seemed normal.
Cruz said she left work early that day to drive Anson to the police department to be interviewed about the shooting.

Mike Olivas said he bought a .22 caliber rifle from Edward Salas the day of the shooting.
He said Torres and Salas knocked on the door later that night, waking his family.
“They said they had just shot up a house and needed a place to kick it,” he said.
Olivas said he told them to leave.
“The way I see it, what they’re accused of, they did it and what comes around goes around,” he said.
Olivas said he was later charged with felon in possession of a firearm and served a year in the county jail for purchasing the rifle.

The status of others charged in the case:
• Orlando Salas, 18, pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting in exchange for testimony against his brothers. He is in the custody of the Children Youth and Families Department until age 21.

• Demetrio Salas, 22, was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years in January for first-degree murder. He will be required to serve a minimum of 40 years.
• David Griego, 31, was convicted of second-degree murder in January and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
• Noe Torres, 29, remains at large.