Outside a San Joaquin County Superior courtroom in Stockton on Monday, April 23, the family of shooting victim Everuvaldo Cruz-Espino spoke about the killing through a Spanish interpreter, a woman who identified herself as his sister-in-law.
“They want to know why he was shot,” she said, surrounded by several family members. “They want to know why they did it.”
Cruz-Espino was shot while in the driver’s seat of his car shortly after 2 p.m. Feb. 24. A passing Tracy detective found the car in the intersection at 2:10 p.m. and Cruz-Espino was slumped over with a single gunshot wound to the neck. Cruz-Espino died a week later.
His passenger, who was found at the scene, was uninjured.
Cruz-Espino’s family had attended an arraignment hearing Monday for the two people charged in the shooting, both of whom face murder charges.
The suspects are Daniel Batchelder, 19, and Francisco Limon, 16, who is being prosecuted as an adult, according to the district attorney’s office.
Monday’s hearing was delayed because the judge overseeing the case was not available.
Cruz-Espino’s sister-in-law said those at the hearing included the victim’s brother, parents, girlfriend and cousins. She said they were upset because Limon’s defense attorney requested more time to review the case.
Speaking through the interpreter, Cruz-Espino’s sister described him as a nice person who was studying to become a paramedic.
The sister-in-law said Cruz-Espino had been harassed by gang members in his neighborhood because he wore blue clothing. She said they might have viewed him as a gangster in their territory but Cruz-Espino was never a threat.
On the day of the shooting, she said, Cruz-Espino called his family at about 2 p.m. and said he was heading home with his cousin.
She said the family was worried when he didn’t arrive and tried to reach him on his cellphone before they were contacted by police about the shooting.
“They want justice,” she said, gesturing toward the rest of Cruz-Espino’s family. “They know he wasn’t a gangster — why they shoot the bullet that killed him?”
The police and district attorney’s office have not said whether or not they believe Cruz-Espino was a gang member.
The next court date has been set for 9 a.m. April 30 in Department 14 in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton. Cruz-Espino’s sister in law said the family plans to attend all the court hearings in the case.