FONTANA — A judge ruled today that a man must stand trial for murder for allegedly shooting and killing someone two years ago at a wedding reception.
Judge Phillip M. Morris’ ruling came at the end of a preliminary hearing in which two San Bernardino County sheriff’s investigators detailed evidence linking Gonzalo Rodriguez Cabrera to the Aug. 3, 2008 shooting death of Jose Fuentes, 35, of Riverside.
According to the investigators’ testimony in Fontana Superior Court, Cabrera shot Fuentes in the neck at close range during a booze-fueled brawl sparked by two men competing over a woman.
Cabrera’s attorney, Albert Perez, Jr., unsuccessfully argued at the end of the hearing for Cabrera to be “held to answer” for second-degree murder, rather than first-degree murder.
Perez argued that Cabrera, 24, of Fontana, came to the aid of his cousin, who was being badly beaten by a group of men at the party in the 15300 block of Hawthorne Avenue in Fontana.
“There was a fight,” Perez said. “It happened spontaneously.”
Sgt. John Gaffney testified that the 1 a.m. shooting originated with a dispute between Cabrera’s cousin and Fuentes’ brother.
During a break between sets by a band that performed at the reception, Fuentes’ brother asked to dance with a woman who earlier was dancing with Cabrera’s cousin, Gaffney said.
She turned him down, and when the band started playing again she continued dancing with Cabrera’s cousin. As they danced, Fuentes’ brother started at them, Gaffney testified.
Later during the party, Cabrera’s cousin confronted Fuentes’ brother and asked him why he was starting at him, Gaffney testified.
Fuentes’ brother then head-butted Cabrera’s cousin, and several people, including Fuentes and Cabrera, joined in as a fight ensued. During the ruckus, Cabrera allegedly shot Fuentes in the neck with a revolver, Gaffney testified.
Cabrera quickly left the party after the shooting, but his cousin remained — he was pinned down by several people who demanded to know the identify of the gunman, Gaffney said.
Cabrera identified him as his primo, which in Spanish means cousin, Gaffney said.
According to testimony from from Detective Steven Pennington, several witnesses at the party identified Cabrera as the shooter after being shown photos of six different people, one of whom was Cabrera.
The witnesses said she shooter had large tattoo on the side of his neck (Cabrera has such a tattoo), and they also provided detailed descriptions of the clothing worn by the shooter, Pennington testified.
When investigators served a search warrant at Cabrera’s home in the 9400 block of Catawba Avenue on the day of the shooting, they found the clothing described by witnesses in a washing machine.
The clothing was stained with blood, Pennington testified, and Cabrera’s belt and shoes were also in the washer.
When Cabrera was arrested later that day and interviewed by detectives, he said he was at the party and admitted fighting alongside his cousin. But he denied responsibility for the shooting, Pennington testified.
He said he was about 15 feet away from Fuentes when Fuentes was shot. He could not explain why his clothing was blood-stained, Pennington testified.
Cabrera is next due in court Dec. 27. He remains jailed in lieu of $2.5 million bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.