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Witness for prosecution struggles on stand

Castro trial continues.

Posted: March 19, 2008 12:50 a.m.
Updated: May 20, 2008 5:01 a.m.
SAN FERNANDO - A witness for the prosecution in the Esperanza Castro murder trial struggled under cross-examination Tuesday as the defense attorney pointed out inconsistencies between what he told deputies in
2006 compared to his testimony during the trial.
Antonio "Tony" Garcia, who testified late last week, answered questions about what he saw from his Canyon Country home the night Ramon Castro was killed. Garcia was a neighbor of Esperanza and Ramon Castro.

On March 22, 2006, Ramon Castro was found dead in his pickup truck under a Highway 14 overpass on Sierra Highway. Esperanza Castro had called deputies to report a burglary at her home. She is now on trial for his murder.

Peter Korn, Esperanza Castro's defense attorney, asked Garcia specific questions about a vehicle he allegedly saw in front of the Castro home on the night of the killing. Garcia apparently told deputies that on March 22, 2006, he saw a black two-door car with the front and rear windows fully tinted.

However, when on the stand, Garcia was shown a photograph of a black four-door sedan with only the rear windows tinted. Garcia said that the vehicle he was shown in court was definitely the same one he saw the night Ramon Castro was killed.

When Korn asked why there was a discrepancy in his descriptions of the vehicle that he allegedly saw in front of the Castro residence, Garcia said he just saw the rear window of the vehicle, which was fully tinted, and assumed the rest of the car was tinted, as well. He also said he saw the same vehicle at the house on multiple occasions.

Garcia was also asked why he did not report that the front driver-side hubcap was missing until the third time he was interviewed by deputies, when he was shown a picture of the vehicle with the missing hubcap. He responded that he was aware of the missing hubcap, and was just delayed in describing it.

Korn then pressed Garcia about whom he identified as the driver of the vehicle he saw at the Castro residence two years ago. Garcia described the driver as wearing a cowboy hat and blue jeans, though he did not mention that he had a mustache until sheriff's deputies showed him several pictures of men with mustaches.

The defense attempted to imply that Garcia presumed that the alleged driver had a mustache only after he the saw pictures, yet did not actually see a mustache when he saw the person at the Castro residence.
The defense followed the same line of questioning. He asked about Garcia's identification of Esperanza Castro during his first interview with deputies.

In his testimony, Garcia acknowledged that he thought he saw Esperanza Castro at her home shortly after her husband was killed, though only affirmed that he saw her after deputies showed him a picture of Castro and implied that she was arrested earlier that day.

Tuesday's cross-examination picked up from Monday afternoon, and the prosecution intends to call more witnesses through the rest of this week.


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