Alleged Roy gang shooter pleads not guilty

Friday , August 01, 2014 - 5:38 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN - An alleged gang shooter said in a video interview with police that the gun that killed a member of another gang went off accidentally.

Ruben Nava appeared in the 2nd District Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing where prosecutors presented evidence and witness testimony to show probable cause to convict him. After hearing all the evidence, Judge Noel Hyde ordered Nava to stand trial. Nava then entered a plea of not guilty.

Nava is charged with the shooting death of 23-year-old Mario Saucedo.

On Sept. 8, 2013, Roy police responded to reports of gunshots at a residence. They found Saucedo dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Nava was arrested the next day.

A video of detectives interviewing Nava was played in court.

Nava said he was at the home of Rudy and Samantha Martinez for a birthday party with several friends. Midway through the party a group of four to five men showed up, including Saucedo.

Nava said the group was immediately aggressive with other people at the party and looking to pick a fight over gang affiliation. The group said they were Ogden Trece members. Nava said he had a bad feeling about the crowd that showed up and sent his young daughter home.

He said the group of Trece members harassed him and another friend because they were from Southern California and were members of the El Monte Flores gang from that area.

Around midnight, the confrontation ended up on the front lawn of the home with the two sides almost coming to blows, though Nava said he was out there to break it up and protect his friends. He said things got out of hand when somebody pushed Samantha Martinez on the ground.

At some point during the night, Nava claims that somebody handed him a gun and told him to take it inside the house. Throughout the interview, Nava maintains that he doesn’t know who exactly handed him the gun, which the detectives continually doubt and question him on. He also claims to have no memory of what happened to the gun afterward due to shock.

Nava kept the gun in his pocket and said that when the group of Trece members began to approach him, he felt threatened and decided to brandish the gun to scare them. However, he claimed that somehow the gun went off by accident.

The detectives told Nava that it was confirmed that at least two shots were fired, so it’s doubtful that it was an accident.

Earlier in the hearing, Lt. Danny Hammond with Roy City Police testified that he discovered that Martinez’s son, Derek Martinez, drove Nava away from the scene and that they stopped at a nearby vacant lot to dispose of the gun. 

Later in the investigation, Derek Martinez received an amnesty agreement and led police to where the gun was located.

Nava took a taxi to his brother’s house, then to a co-workers house where he hid. Through the taxi company, police tracked him down and took him into custody.

The only gap in information is how Nava obtained the gun. When the gun was found, it was revealed to have belonged to Samantha Martinez, though she and her husband told police that they had no idea how Nava got  it. 

Nava continually repeated that he did not know who gave him the gun, while the detectives accused of him lying about being handed the gun or was refusing to tell them in order to protect that person.

After the video was played, prosecutors said there was no question that Nava murdered Saucedo. 

“Although the defendant claims it was an accident, all the evidence says that it wasn’t,” Weber County prosecutor Sandra Corp said. 

All of Nava’s actions afterward such as fleeing the scene, hiding the weapon and hiding himself further incriminate him, she said.

Nava’s defense attorney John Hanks said that his client’s statements that he felt threatened by Saucedo and his friends and acted in self-defense have remained consistent throughout the case.

Judge Hyde said in summary that there is no dispute about the basic facts of the case that Nava did indeed fire the gun that shot and killed Saucedo. What is in contention and what will be examined in trial is Nava’s motive, intent and mindset when he fired, he said.

Whether if it was an accident, meant to intimidate or if Nava intended to kill are still up for debate. 

The next hearing in the case is a pretrial conference Sept. 2, where a trial will most likely be set.

Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Andreas.

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