The teenage murder defendant whose retrial on charges he gunned down a man when only 14 years old will not happen Monday as scheduled because he is facing new charges of using fellow gangmembers to scare potential witnesses in the first trial.
Prosecutors were set to try once again to convict Josue Raul Orozco, 19, of murdering Francisco Rodriguez in Redwood City on July 12, 2005. Instead, Orozco’s defense attorney sought more time in light of his client’s new witness intimidation case, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Orozco’s trial is now set for Nov. 15, almost five months after the first date set and more than five years after his arrest.
Orozco, whose first trial deadlocked in December, was charged earlier this year along with five others for threatening witnesses to either change their testimony or not appear before that trial. The plan was uncovered through jail house phone records during the last half of the first trial.
Along with Orozco, the District Attorney’s Office charged Alexandro Stephen “Porky” Villar, 19, of East Palo Alto, Bianca Aguillon, 19, of East Palo Alto, Arturo Becerra, 19, of East Palo Alto, Edgar Cibrian, 20, unknown city of residence, and Cesar Ponce, 20, of Redwood City. All six have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for a multi-day preliminary hearing in July.
The delay is the latest twist in Orozco’s case. He already made headlines when the then-14-year-old became the youngest person ever charged as an adult murder defendant in San Mateo County. Two years later, he became the first ward to escape from the county’s recently opened juvenile hall.
According to the prosecution, Orozco shot Rodriguez as the man tried running for safety. Orozco, an alleged Sureño gang member, allegedly gathered others including his younger brother and two other minors and sought out Norteños as payback for an earlier slight.
While Orozco was at large, getaway driver Faustino Ayala was convicted of second-degree murder. Orozco was caught in Texas on suspicion of robbery and tried separately. In December, jurors split almost evenly between guilt and innocence and a judge declared a mistrial. In January, prosecutors announced retrial plans.