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Victim’s Cousin Takes the Stand in Trial for Carachure Murder

Noe Carachure testifies in detail about the 2007 fight and subsequent stabbing murder

The trial of four defendants accused in the July 2007 stabbing murder of Lorenzo Carachure, a former Westside gang member, continued Tuesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Having doffed their jail jumpsuits in favor of conservative street clothes, Ruben Mize, Bryan Medinilla, Ricardo Nava and Raul Diaz listened as testimony was heard from Nathan Kezer, 31 — who reported having observed the fracas between Carachure, his associates and their assailants from a rooftop — and Carachure’s cousin, Noe Carachure, who was involved in the fray that night.

Kezer, who said he was gazing at stars with his girlfriend when the incident occurred in front of the rooftop they were on, said that although he couldn’t identify the individuals involved in the fight, he could see the body movements of seven or so people and describe their body movements.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Hans Almgren asked Kezer whether he had seen weapons being used, and whether he could identify a car jack that was allegedly used to hit Carachure in the head just before he was stabbed to death, but all he could confirm was that he had heard the sounds of the fight, and see a stick or bat of some sort being used.

When his turn came to take the stand, Noe Carachure, who is in custody in the Santa Barbara County Jail, was not required to speak much, other than to verify the truthfulness of the statements he had made in a recorded interview with Almgren in April. The tape was played in its entirety, and gave a detailed account of the events leading up to the incident from Noe Carachure’s point of view. The story took on a West Side Story flavor as Carachure described his premonition, on the day that his cousin was killed, that something bad was about to happen.

Several nights before the murder, he said that he, his now-deceased cousin and their friend Rogelio Hernandez were walking home on Anapamu Street to the Westside after picking up Rogelio from his job on State Street when a white SUV drove by, its inhabitants flashing “Eastside Krazy” gang signs out the window.

“I’m not gonna fight a Westsider. I’m gonna fight a Eastsider — they’re rivals,” Noe Carachure said in the interview, confirming for Almgren that his attackers had been members of a rival Eastside gang.

Hernandez’s nose was broken in the altercation, but Noe Carachure said he had defeated his opponent. It wasn’t until a few nights later that the group of Eastsiders Noe and his two friends had encountered came back, this time with some help. Noe said the man who he had beaten in the fist fight stabbed him a few times after screaming, “I’m gonna f****** shank you!”

His cousin Lorenzo, he said , was hit in the head with a car jack and fell to the ground, appearing unconscious. It was then, he said, that Eastside gang members began stabbing him, but Noe Carachure could not recall who had done the actual stabbing.

“I saw four guys stabbing [Lorenzo]. He was unconscious,” Carachure said in the taped interview. “Usually, with a gang-related thing, you retaliate. When they buried my cousin, all of my anger left and all I remember is a bunch of guys. I don’t remember their names, what they were wearing. I just remember a bunch of shadows.”

Testimony also was heard from a handful of police detectives, as well as two residents who had heard the fight going on outside of their houses. Eliot Winder, who has since moved from the San Pascual Street residence where he was living at the time of the murder, said he saw one of the alleged attackers attempt to hide a blade when he looked at the man.

None of the four defendants in the case is older than 21, and all were juveniles at the time of the murder. They are being charged as adults for murder with a gang enhancement, one count of active involvement with a criminal street gang and two counts of attempted murder, also with a gang enhancement. Mize also faces attempted murder charges for a January 2008 assault in which another gang member was stabbed 30 times.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Noozhawk intern Michael Goldsholl contributed to this report.

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