Murder trial of teenager accused of killing basketball star JB White begins | Local News
Estevan Montoya was an uninvited and unwanted guest at the house party where he is accused of fatally shooting Santa Fe High School up-and-coming basketball player Fedonta “JB” White in August 2020, officials said Wednesday. prosecutors as a murder trial against 18-year-old Montoya took place. In progress.
After months of closures related to the coronavirus pandemic, a group of friends, “mostly young women,” had planned the party through a group text, the district’s deputy chief attorney said, Jennifer Padgett Macias, to the jurors in her opening statement.
It was supposed to be a fun summer party, she said. It was supposed to be cool, “no drama…good vibes.”
A witness said she thought they might play board games at the party, which teenage hostess Faith Alva was throwing at her family’s unoccupied home, still under construction in Chupadero.
Montoya, charged with first-degree murder and other charges, “knew they weren’t invited, and they came anyway,” Padgett Macias said. “And they came with guns. [Montoya] walked into this party knowing he had the power to bring anyone to their knees.
The party started around 10 p.m., and Montoya and his companions “came to order” around midnight, the prosecutor told jurors.
They took over Bluetooth and started playing “homemade, non-traditional rap music”.
No one wanted to listen to him, Padgett Macias said, but everyone knew to tread lightly around Montoya and his friends.
Shortly after, she said, two young men from Montoya’s group were fighting.
One was “out of control” – physically and verbally aggressive – on the porch as dozens of other teenagers watched.
The party had grown, she said, thanks to social media.
That’s when 18-year-old White — who was about to leave high school a year early to take a spot on the University of New Mexico basketball team — took the floor, the prosecutor said.
She said he complained about the noise the other two boys were making on the porch.
“He said, ‘Shut that goofy goofy,'” Padgett Macias said. “[White’s] the comment was all that [Montoya] needed. It was his trigger.
Montoya, then 16, confronted White saying, “‘You don’t want that smoke,'” the prosecutor said. “His words were more than words. They were a threat. His words called for a fight.
Montoya might have backed off, Padgett Macias said, “but he wasn’t running away. He was inviting JB into his space. He wasn’t afraid of JB, and it showed in his eyes.
In a tragic decision that changed White’s fate, she said, the basketball star didn’t back down when approached by Montoya.
“Say something to the effect of ‘What’s good?’ [White] pull up his pants, take off his glasses and tuck in his chains,” Padgett Macias told the jury.
The two boys clashed, she said. Montoya swung and missed; White swung and missed. No one was beaten, she said. No one was bloody. No one was dominated.
Then White swung and Montoya shot, she said.
Montoya froze for a moment, then jumped over a low fence and ran down the driveway, the gun still held high above his head, the prosecutor said.
Eighteen seconds later, he was heard firing a second shot.
The prosecutor told jurors the state would put 18 partygoers on the stand over the next two weeks to testify to the version of events she described.
Montoya’s defense attorney, Dan Marlowe, said Wednesday that the state’s account was skewed and unsupported by physical evidence.
“One of the first things I heard in the opening statement of the state was that the South Side Goons, or the fellowship group [Montoya] showed up with, weren’t invited,” Marlowe said when it was his turn to address the jury. “Then she says in the same breath that it was on social media. It was a big party. So the line that they weren’t invited may be true – but everyone was invited.
There was “drinking like you wouldn’t believe” at the party, Marlowe said. “There were drugs there.”
A toxicology report will show White was drunk and had smoked marijuana, he added.
Montoya was not behind a fight with the much bigger white, Marlowe said; he was trying to “soften” her up and keep her from getting involved in the fight between the other two boys.
“He comes up and says… ‘Don’t get involved,’” Marlowe explained. “But [White] tucked in his chains, pulled up his pants and went after [Montoya].”
The defense attorney told the jury, “You’re going to hear this [Montoya] turned around and fired [White] in the chest. Based on the path of injury…it’s impossible.
The physical evidence, particularly the angle of White’s injury, supports Montoya’s defence, Marlowe said: He was running away when he pulled the gun from his waist and shot behind him over his shoulder without looking.
“That’s how you explain the trajectory of the ball,” Marlowe said. “There was a person chasing him. It was a desperate blow, a sudden panic, and it touched him. It’s a disappointment that it hit him. But it’s not about turning around and shooting him point-blank. … The trajectory of the bullet shows you that’s exactly what happened.
Marlowe told jurors that Montoya was carrying a gun because one of his closest friends had been shot and killed just yards from him weeks before and he was terrified of being the next.
Montoya had been “locked up… fearing he could be murdered” in the days leading up to the party, the defense attorney said. “So he went out and grabbed a gun, like a gun would do him good. Stupidly enough, he thinks carrying a gun is going to save him… but that’s not how it works.
What happened was a terrible tragedy, Marlowe said, but it was not a crime.
State’s first witness Anna Hayes – one of the young guests at the party – said she was standing on the porch trying to get a Snapchat video of the first altercation between the other boys when she inadvertently captured the sound of the gunshot that killed White.
Her camera was pointed at the porch, she said, when she heard the gunshot behind her and turned around. She captured the sound of the gunshot, her own cry of surprise and a jerky snippet of footage showing people running away, rushing for safety.
“The shot was fired and I knew it was something bad because as soon as I turned around everyone looked really shocked,” she said.
She started running, Hayes testified under questioning by Chief Assistant District Attorney Blake Nichols, “because I didn’t want to die. I think that may have been the most serious moment of my life.
Others were scared too, she said, and “ran for their lives. I was so scared that I ran into the bushes and stumbled down the hill.
Hayes said she “accidentally” posted the images on Snapchat while running. Pressed by Nichols, she admitted there was another reason she shared the video.
“I didn’t know if we were going to make it out alive,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Hayes was one of three revelers who took a stand Wednesday for the state.
Another, 23-year-old Christopher Gamboa, testified that he had volunteered to act as an unofficial party check, helping Alva watch over her parents’ property, and ended the evening trying to enforce pressure on the gunshot wound to White’s chest.
Gamboa said he did not witness the altercation between Montoya and White, but tried to rescue White afterward.
“He kept saying, ‘Please don’t let me die, man; please don’t let me die,” Gamboa said.
Jurors also heard several hours of testimony from Shari Vialpando, then a Santa Fe County crime scene technician — now an employee of the district attorney’s office — and viewed videos and photographs she took at the scene. .
The trial – which is expected to last until May 18 – is expected to resume on Thursday with Marlowe’s cross-examination of Vialpando.