Four days of witness testimony for the prosecution in the trial of Edgar Canseco and Emmanuel Mendoza, both 20, concluded Wednesday, June 6, in San Joaquin County Superior Court. Jurors were dismissed until Tuesday, when the court will hear closing arguments.
According to Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa, the lawyers for the defense both told Judge Richard Mallett on Thursday that they had no witnesses or evidence to present to the jury. Jeffrey Hirschfield represents Mendoza, and Lance Jacot represents Canseco.
Outside the courtroom Thursday, Testa said he wasn’t surprised that the defense had no new witnesses, based upon the strength of the prosecution’s case. He said he was surprised, however, that neither defendant testified on his own behalf.
“I was taken back with their decision,” Testa said. “They called no witnesses of their own. Everyone showed up that we wanted to show up (to testify).”
Both defense attorneys refused to comment regarding the trial outside the courtroom after Thursday morning’s proceedings.
According to police, Prater was killed when the two defendants and a third man, James Stancampiano, tried to rob him of his jewelry the night of Sept. 15, 2010.
Prater’s girlfriend, Keisha Anderson, testified May 31 that she was sitting in the passenger’s seat next to Prater the night of the shooting, while Canseco and Mendoza were riding in the backseat of Prater’s car.
She described for the jury how a masked gunman, identified by police as Stancampiano, held a rifle to Prater’s chest and shot him while the car was parked on the western end of Sixth Street. She said both defendants grabbed Prater from behind and held him when he tried to fight against the gunman before being fatally shot.
Stancampiano remains at large, and police believe he may be hiding in Mexico, New York or Florida.
The prosecution and defense went over jury instructions with the judge for two hours Thursday morning.
The jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Department 24 of the Stockton courthouse.