Originally created 09/14/99

Defense says suspect acted

APPLING -- Jurors listened Monday to the frantic 911 call of 15-year-old Mayra Juarez just moments after her cousins, Prisca and Leonel Vazquez, were shot and killed in the yard of their mobile home last Thanksgiving.

Monday was the first day the jury of nine men and three women heard testimony in the trial of Narciso Pineda, who is charged with murder in the shooting deaths of Mrs. Vazquez, 41, Mr. Vazquez, 42, and the couple's unborn child, as well as family friend Mario Molina, 42, on Thanksgiving Day. Testimony continues this morning in Columbia County Superior Court.

As the first witness was called to the stand Monday, Columbia County sheriff's Lt. Gilbert Lopez explained to the jury how he translated Mayra's panicked words to the dispatcher who took her call for help the night of the killings at Grovetown's Mobile City Rentals.

Jurors listened to the chilling tape where Lt. Lopez learned from Mayra and the mobile home park's manager, Norma Rosales, who both spoke little English, that three people had been shot. Lt. Lopez also said he learned the gunman was Narciso Pineda of Grovetown and the officer received a description of the van he drove.

Mr. Pineda has said he shot Mr. Vazquez and Mr. Molina in self-defense and that he never saw Mrs. Vazquez. District Attorney Danny Craig is seeking the death penalty.

In his opening statement, Mr. Craig explained how Mr. Pineda terrorized the Vazquez family for weeks before the killings in response to an argument involving a family friend and his son, Narciso Pineda Jr. The elder Mr. Pineda often would ride by the Vazquez home and scream obscenities, Mr. Craig said.

Prosecutors say Mr. Pineda invited the Vazquez family to Thanksgiving dinner at his house and, when they refused, he drove to their home to kill them.

"Mr. Pineda had no reason to go into Mobile City Rentals that night other than to terrorize the Vazquez family," Mr. Craig told jurors. "Then he tried to eliminate the witnesses to what he had done."

Mr. Pineda's defense attorneys, Jacque Hawk and Peter Johnson, said Mr. Vazquez pulled a gun first and shot Narciso Pineda Jr. in the leg. The two families were friends who often had visited each other's houses for meals, defense attorneys said.

"The day he was supposedly planning to kill these folks, this man was sitting on the couch with his 4-year-old watching cartoons," Mr. Hawk said. "He had never even met Mario Molina before that night and had no reason to have any problem with him."

Mr. Hawk said Mr. Molina was shot when he came after Mr. Pineda with a brick and that Mr. Vazquez was known to carry two guns, both of which he pulled the night of Nov. 26.

"If Pineda hadn't done this, there is no doubt that he and his son would have been dead," Mr. Hawk said. "You will see that the only motive is bullets whizzing by and one of them hitting your son. All I want you to do is listen, see what makes sense and send this man home. Every man has the right to preserve his own life and the life of his son."

Reach Scotty Fletcher at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 111, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.


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