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Defense argues double fatal shooting was act of self defense

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Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, Calif.

A prosecutor and a defense attorney gave jurors two completely different versions of what happened when two men were fatally shot while they sat in a car in Oakland in 2015.

In his opening statement in the trial of David Vigil, 35, Alameda County prosecutor Butch Ford said Vigil should be found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Oakland residents Jorge Salazar-Gonzalez, 24, and Edward Miranda-Castillo, 31, who were found dead of gunshot wounds in the 2000 block of Crosby Avenue at 11:21 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2015.

Ford said Salazar-Gonzalez and Miranda-Castillo had just gotten off their jobs at a pizza parlor and were eating pizza and smoking marijuana while sitting in a car in front of Miranda-Castillo’s home when they were shot.

Vigil and another suspect, who has never been identified or found, pulled up in a car, got out and fired multiple shots that killed Salazar-Gonzalez and Miranda-Castillo, the prosecutor said.

Ford said that as far as police know, Vigil had no reason for being in that neighborhood and told jurors to hold him accountable “for murdering two people who were just minding their own business.”

But defense attorney Michael Cardoza claimed that Vigil fired shots in self-defense.

Cardoza said:

“If David didn’t do what he did, he’d be dead.”

Cardoza didn’t explain why Vigil and the other suspect drove up and approached Salazar-Gonzalez and Miranda-Castillo in the shooting, which was captured in surveillance camera footage that was shown to jurors.

Ford did not provide a motive for the confrontation and shooting.

But Cardoza told jurors to note that Vigil didn’t pull out his gun right away when he got out of the driver’s seat of his car. He said that if Vigil really planned to kill the two men, he would have had his gun drawn as soon as he got out of the vehicle.

Looking at the video, Cardoza said:

“(Vigil) doesn’t have his gun out and is not prepared to kill anyone.”

Cardoza said Vigil, who he described as “a good citizen” who has a young boy and had a union job, started shooting only after Salazar-Gonzalez, who was in the driver’s seat in the other car, pulled out his gun and started shooting.

The defense attorney told jurors:

“When someone pulls a weapon you’re reacting, not thinking. You can see that David was in fear of his life.”

Cardoza said Vigil, whose family members and friends packed the defense side of the courtroom, should be found not guilty of all charges against him.

Ford said Salazar-Gonzalez fired two shots in self-defense that struck Vigil in his left shoulder. Vigil had his cousin drive him to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland to be treated for his wounds.

Vigil allegedly lied to police by claiming that he suffered his wounds in a shooting at 79th and Bancroft avenues, which is a long distance from Crosby Avenue, and that he wasn’t involved in the shooting of Salazar-Gonzalez and Miranda-Castillo, Ford said.

Cardoza admitted that Vigil lied to police but said he did so because he grew up in East Oakland, where he said many murders occur, and has “an inherent distrust of the police.”

If Vigil is convicted, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole because in addition to two counts of murder, he’s charged with the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.

In a hearing outside the presence of jurors, Ford said Vigil’s family members have threatened a prosecution witness and left bullets at his house.

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