Jurors hear three versions of double homicide

Jurors heard three different versions Thursday of what happened five years ago when two 18-year-old boys were killed in Hayward in an execution-style shooting.

Prosecutor Jimmie Wilson said in a closing argument today that both 22-year-old Tiara Arnold and 25-year-old Isaiah Washington, 25, who are from Oakland, should be found guilty of two counts of murder and other charges for the shooting deaths of Rafael Avila and Carlos Buenrostro, both of Hayward, in the 21600 block of Westpark Street at about 1 a.m. on May 9, 2010.

Wilson said he believes the evidence shows that Arnold fired the 21 shots from an AK-47 assault rifle that killed the two victims, but he thinks that Washington planned to rob the two 18-year-olds and ordered Arnold to kill them so there wouldn’t be any witnesses to the crime.

Wilson said Arnold and Washington were in love with each other and “he was telling her what to do and she’s doing it.” Washington was 21 at the time of the incident and Arnold was only 17 but she is being prosecuted as an adult.

Wilson said:

“It doesn’t matter if she pulled the trigger, it’s his gun and they were in this together. They’re both guilty and the fact that she shot does not get him off the hook.”

The prosecutor said Washington possessed the assault rifle that was used in the shooting and if it weren’t for him Arnold wouldn’t have had the means to carry out the shooting.¬†Washington said Avila and Buenrostro were lying face down when they were shot and a witness said the gunfire was so forceful that their bodies bounced off the concrete.

In addition to two counts of murder, Wilson said Arnold and Washington should be convicted of attempted murder for three shots that he alleges that Arnold fired at a 16-year-old girl who was with them and of the special circumstances of committing multiple murders and committing murders during the course of a robbery.

Washington’s attorney, William Linehan, admitted that Washington “is no angel” and has a previous conviction for robbery but he said Washington didn’t intend for Avila and Buenrostro to be killed. Lineham alleged that Arnold acted on her own when she shot Avila and Buenrostro.

Wilson said witness testimony that Washington hid his face when the witness drove past the scene shortly after the shooting indicates that Washington “was doing something criminal.” But Linehan said if Washington hid his face it was only because “he just saw the person he loved brutally kill two men.”

Linehan said:

“My client is terrified and doesn’t want to be caught but that doesn’t mean he murdered anybody.”

However, Arnold’s attorney, Eliott Silver, said if Arnold actually fired the shots that killed the two victims it was only because she was under duress since Washington was carrying the assault rifle and was ordering her around. Silver said Arnold’s actions were “reasonable” because “nobody is going to fight with a man who has an AK-47 in his hand.”

Pointing at Washington, Silver told jurors, “You are in the presence of evil” and alleged that the crime wouldn’t have occurred if it weren’t for him. Silver said Washington “was enraged, had just been out of jail for a week (after serving time for his robbery conviction) and went on a rampage.

Silver also said he thinks there is reasonable doubt about whether Arnold fired the shots that killed the two victims because testimony from the woman who was 16 at the time of the incident and was with Washington and Arnold when the shooting occurred is unreliable.

The woman testified that both Arnold and Washington held the gun at different times that night but Arnold was the last person she saw holding it before shots were fired, although she didn’t actually see the shooting. But Silver said that when he cross-examined the woman and asked her who was holding the gun before shots rang out she said she didn’t know.

The defense attorney said the woman’s equivocation is “reasonable doubt of the highest order” and if Arnold were convicted based on the woman’s testimony “it would be a miscarriage of justice.”

Introducing another element into the trial, Linehan said the woman, who admitted on the witness stand that she was a gang member at the time, had a sexual relationship with Arnold while Washington was in jail and Washington was furious when he found out about it.

Linehan said Washington was so angry at the woman that he might have threatened to kill her that night but that doesn’t mean that he wanted Avila and Buenrostro to be robbed and killed:

“Mr. Washington’s anger at the woman because of a lover’s quarrel is contemptible but that isn’t the crime that’s charged in this case.”

Jurors will begin deliberating on Monday.