Jurors in the Herrera fratricide trial were introduced Friday to the known informant who cooperated with detectives in obtaining information from Arturo Herrera while he was locked up in County Jail after being arrested for the murder of his younger brother, Enrique.
It was the informant's job to find out whatever he could from Arturo and secretly record their conversation.
Detectives discovered Enrique bloodied and lifeless on his bed July 4 at the Hillside Ranch home in the 4300 block of West Ocean Avenue in Lompoc. The boys' mother was away at work, leaving the two home alone.
Lead investigating detective Brian Scott of the county Sheriff's Office testified that he and another detective met with the agent before the Perkins operation took place. The agent was given a recorder but was not given any specific directions or information about Arturo.
The prosecution also played a video tape depicting Scott's interview with Herrera before and after he was arrested. Taking place at the sheriff's substation in Lompoc, Arturo told Scott that he and Enrique had a good relationship, "worked out, played video games and watched UFC" together. He also opened up about his time in the Marine Corps and his college education.
But when pressed about July 4 incidents, Arturo became extremely quiet when Scott asked him what happened. It wasn't until much later into the footage that Arturo told Scott that he went to bed at 1 a.m. the night before and woke up at about noon, then watched "Coming to America" for about 30 minutes before getting out of bed. Afterward, he noticed Enrique's door ajar.
"That's when I walked in and saw him," Arturo said quietly. Then, the video ends.
Redirecting her attention to the Perkins agent operation, defense attorney Sydney Bennett asked Scott what terms he specifically used to gain cooperation from the informant.
"I said 'case consideration,'" Scott said. Under Bennett's questioning, Scott admitted that he had no knowledge of the agent's prior records, or what he himself was in jail for, but did find out later.
"[The operation] isn't relevant to what his charges are," Scott argued.
"So it's not relevant that he's charged with extortion?" pressed Bennett, to which Scott affirmed.
The agent, who agreed to get information out of Arturo on July 5 and entered into the testifying agreement with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office last December was called next to the stand.
Under Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens' questioning, the agent, who'd been locked up since November 2015, admitted that he was in jail for extortion and gang enhancement.
Prior charges included burglary, vandalism, firearm possession and robbery. He said he had dropped out of gang life two years ago and, now, has been "greenlighted" by other felons.
"What does that term mean?" Jebens asked.
"If they catch me, they will kill me for cooperating with police," the agent replied.
The agent further testified that he wasn't given details of Arturo's case but was just told to record their conversation. The recorder was placed in a tiny crack on the wall that separated his cell from Arturo's.
The agent also said that no specific promises were made but that he was given $140 for "money on the books," time for credit served and to be relocated into the witness protection program upon his release when he completes testifying for the District Attorney's Office on multiple other cases.
Testimony resumed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.