Prosecutors presented details during a preliminary hearing Tuesday for a Santa Maria man who is an alleged gang member charged in the shooting death of a rival on West Donovan Road in December 2020. 

Jesus Juarez Garcilazo, 19, appeared before Judge James Herman in the Santa Maria courtroom to face a charge of murder and an enhancement of causing great bodily injury with a firearm in the killing of 20-year-old Kevin Nunez-Escamilla.

Garcilazo, who was shackled, appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit top with blue pants, an N95 mask and a clear, plastic face shield as part of COVID-19 protocol.

The hearing determines whether there is enough probable cause to uphold the charges against Garcilazo and does not indicate guilt. Garcilazo pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied the enhancement on Dec. 24. 

Officers responded to a report of shots heard in the 800 block of West Donovan shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 and upon arrival, located the body of Nunez-Escamilla on the sidewalk with a fatal gunshot wound, according to Santa Maria Police Lt. Jesse Silva. 

Santa Maria Police detectives and members of the Special Enforcement Bureau, along with members of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, located Garcilazo four days later on Dec. 22, in the 700 block of Laurel Avenue in the town of Lindsay, approximately 200 miles northeast of Santa Maria. 

At the preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney Jordan Lockey presented surveillance camera footage obtained by SMPD detectives allegedly showing the confrontation between Nunez-Escamilla and Garcilazo near the intersection of West Donovan Road and North Oakley Avenue. 

A grey Nissan Rogue is shown parking and dropping the victim off near the corner before he walked to his employer's house to collect a paycheck, according to Santa Maria Police Detective Ryan Preast. 

Several minutes into the video, Nunez-Escamilla encounters a man who appears to be Garcilazo, and who appears to fire three bullets in rapid succession at Nunez-Escamilla before fleeing on foot northbound along North Oakley Avenue.

A series of surveillance camera pictures collected from other locations allegedly trace Garcilazo's path as he fled, and show him wearing a red windbreaker jacket and blue Boston Red Sox hat before removing them both, according to Preast.

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Garcilazo, an alleged member of the 18th Street Gang, was on his way to visit a cousin when he reportedly was targeted and attacked by Nunez-Escamilla, an alleged West Park gang member who police have described as violent from past encounters and known to carry weapons, according to Erica Sutherland, Garcilazo's public defender, adding her client acted in self-defense. 

A folded pocket knife was removed from Nunez-Escamilla's pocket in the process of identifying him on scene, according to Preast. 

"Mr. Garcilazo had to make a split second decision whether to defend himself or become a victim," Sutherland said.  

A search warrant conducted at Garcilazo's family member's residence in the 200 block of West Williams Street allegedly yielded a disassembled Glock 9-millimeter handgun and two 10-round magazines, one with three bullets missing, wrapped in clothing that was wrapped in Christmas paper. 

Autopsy results showed that Nunez-Escamilla was shot once behind the right ear, with the bullet exiting through his right eye; and shot once in the back, shattering vertebrae and exiting out the chest, through the aorta, according to Preast, adding that both wounds were fatal. 

Data obtained from Garcilazo's social media accounts allegedly indicated his involvement with the 18th Street Gang, although Sutherland disputes this evidence. 

The hearing was continued to Wednesday, when it is expected to conclude, according to Lockey, who is prosecuting the case.

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