UPDATED AT 4:54 P.M.
UPDATED AT 3:53 P.M.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A courtroom melee followed the reading of a guilty verdict in a murder case today in West Valley Superior Court, with two siblings of the defendant taken into custody after they grappled with sheriff’s deputies.
Rafael Quiroz, 21, was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder shortly before noon. Prosecutors accused Quiroz, of Temple City, of shooting and killing his married girlfriend’s husband in Ontario in 2006, when Quiroz was 18.
As the case’s prosecutor walked to leave the courtroom following the reading of the verdict, Quiroz’s sister rose from her seat in the audience, approached the prosecutor and appeared to block his path.
“You’re a piece of [expletive],” Rose Bernal told Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd. “How can you do that to an 18-year-old kid?”
After Bernal, 25, confronted Dowd, several sheriff’s deputies and some of Bernal’s family members rushed to the area.
A major commotion followed. Deputies tried to restrain Bernal, and she appeared to resist their efforts.
Several deputies took their Tasers out of their holsters and threatened to use them on Bernal and other family members in the area.
Bernal was moved by deputies to the center of the courtroom — between the attorneys’ table, the jury box and the judge’s bench — and taken to her knees and handcuffed.
Deputies ordered the roughly 10 people who remained in the courtroom to leave. As family members stood outside the courtroom moments later, deputies came out of the courtroom and arrested Quiroz’s brother.
A deputy told family members the boy was being taken into custody for shoving a sheriff’s deputy during the melee that followed the guilty verdict.
“What am I going to do?” wailed Quiroz’s mother, 40-year-old April Quiroz, after her son was taken back into the courtroom in handcuffs.
Deputies told family members to leave the courthouse, and they left.
Outside the courthouse, there was a brief confrontation between deputies and one of Quiroz’s sisters, who demanded information on the arrest of her siblings.
Deputies ordered the sister, family members and other supporters of Quiroz to leave the courthouse area, and they walking to the adjacent parking lot.
In an interview this afternoon, Dowd said that Bernal bumped him, cursed at him repeatedly, and formed a fist with her right hand as if she was going to punch him.
Dowd said he told Bernal repeatedly to back off, and she responded by asking him what “he was going to do about it.” Dowd said he was prepared to defend himself if Bernal threw a punch.
“If she was going to take a swing at me, you better believe it,” Dowd said. “I’m not going to get pummeled by anybody.”
Dowd said he left the courtroom when he saw sheriff’s deputies approaching Bernal. He said he thought that leaving would be the best way to help de-escalate the situation.
“And apparently it got even worse after I left,” Dowd said.
Dowd said that in his 14 years as a prosecutor in Rancho Cucamonga, he has not heard of an incident where a prosecutor or defense attorney was accosted in court.
“It’s a first time for me,” Dowd said. “I’ve never been accosted in court before. I’ve put someone on Death Row and been shown much more respect than what this family has shown.”
Bernal was booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of assault on a public official and battery on a police officer, said Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Miller said that during the courtroom tussle, a sheriff’s deputy injured an arm and another was “slugged in the head by Rose Bernal because she was being combative.”
Quiroz’s brother, 17, was booked on suspicion of taking a person from lawful custody, Miller said.
A sheriff’s sergeant told Miller that the boy tried to pull Bernal away as deputies tried to restrain her, Miller said.
Quiroz’s defense attorney, Ted Thompson, said following the incident that he “was sorry to see that happen.”
Thompson said that he and Quiroz’s family were “obviously sad and disappointed” over the verdict. He said he would file a notice of appeal on Quiroz’s behalf.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Quiroz is scheduled to be sentenced June 15. He will be eligible for parole in 2021.
Quiroz’s pending sentence is far more lenient than the sentence of 50 years to life that he would have faced if convicted of first-degree murder along with allegations that he used a gun.
Quiroz’s girlfriend and co-defendant — 24-year-old Ingrid Esteves of San Bernardino — was found guilty by a jury Wednesday of first-degree murder, which carries a prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Esteves is scheduled to be sentenced June 11.
Prosecutors said Quiroz and Esteves began dating about a month prior to the shooting death on Aug. 2, 2006 of Esteves’ husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves.
According to the prosecution’s theory of the case, Esteves lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive — ostesibly seeking a ride home — and when Angel Esteves arrived, Quiroz opened fire with a handgun.
Continue reading below for a story on the case from today’s newspaper.
View Angel Esteves murder in a larger map
Jury finds wife guilty in love-triangle murder case
Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Created: 05/13/2009 08:35:20 PM PDT
RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A jury found a San Bernardino woman guilty of murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of her husband in 2006.
Ingrid Esteves, 24, faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life for her role in the death of her husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves, who prosecutors said was shot to death by Esteves’ boyfriend in Ontario.
A separate jury was seated to hear the case of Ingrid Esteves’ boyfriend and co-defendant – 21-year-old Rafael Quiroz – and they began deliberations at about noon Wednesday after attorneys gave closing arguments.
Quiroz’s jury, which consists of eight men and four women, deliberated until about 4 p.m. Wednesday before leaving the courthouse for the day. They were set to continue deliberating this morning, a court clerk said.
Esteves’ jury, which included 10 women and two men, deliberated only about three hours before reaching a guilty verdict.
Prosecutors said Esteves lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive to be shot on Aug. 2, 2006, by Quiroz, a Temple City resident.
When the verdict was read shortly after noon, Esteves didn’t visibly react. Her defense attorney, Maryanne Murphy, declined to comment after the hearing.
The prosecuting attorney, Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd, said he was pleased by the verdict.
“It’s half-done,” said Dowd, referring to the jury still deliberating Quiroz’s guilt. “I think justice has been half-served so far. We’ll see what the other jury has to say.”
During his closing argument in Quiroz’s case on Wednesday morning, Dowd told jurors that Quiroz, who began dating Esteves about a month before the fatal shooting, was an “all-too-willing participant” in Esteves’ plan to kill her husband.
Quiroz, then 18, joined in Esteves’ plan because he was “either crazy enough, stupid enough or just plain in love,” Dowd said.
On Aug. 1, 2006, Quiroz traveled with Esteves and Esteves’ mother and young son to a motel in El Monte, where he obtained a gun from a friend, Dowd said.
The man’s name is unknown to authorities, but Esteves’ mother, Olga Munoz, said in her testimony last week the man was nicknamed “Angel of Death.”
The group drove to Ontario and parked in the area of D and Parkside, where Esteves called Angel Esteves from her cell phone and asked him to pick her up, Dowd said.
When Angel Esteves arrived, he was ambushed by Quiroz, Dowd said. Angel Esteves suffered a gunshot to the head and a gunshot to the back, and died about four hours after the incident.
In his closing argument, Quiroz’s attorney, Ted Thompson, emphasized the high burden of proof required of prosecutors in criminal cases, where the guilt of a defendant must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Thompson told the jurors that Dowd did not meet that standard during five days of testimony in Quiroz’s murder trial.
Thompson urged jurors to disregard statements made by Munoz implicating Quiroz because he said Munoz’s testimony was untruthful.
“She’s not entitled to any credibility whatsoever,” he said.
Thompson minimized the importance of the gunshot-residue findings and other evidence presented by Dowd during the trial.
Esteves is set to be sentenced June 11.
The judge who heard the case, Arthur Harrison, is bound by statute to sentence Esteves to 25 years to life in prison, Dowd said.
Esteves will be credited with the time she spent in custody awaiting trial and will be eligible for parole in 2031, Dowd said.