Originally created 09/15/99

Pineda claims son was shot first



APPLING -- Mayra Juarez, the 15-year-old who made the initial 911 call the night she witnessed the deaths of three people last Thanksgiving, told jurors Tuesday that she never saw any of the victims pull a gun.

Ms. Juarez was the first witness Tuesday at the trial of Narciso Pineda, who is charged with shooting and killing Mario Molina and Leonel Vazquez, both 42, and Prisca Rosales Vazquez, 41, and Mrs. Vazquez' unborn child on Nov. 26 outside their home at Mobile City Rentals in Grovetown.

Though Mr. Pineda maintains that he shot Mr. Molina and Mr. Vazquez in self defense and that the woman's death was accidental, District Attorney Danny Craig is seeking the death penalty. Testimony continues today in Columbia County Superior Court.

Despite her original statement to police that Mr. Vazquez was shot after he pulled a gun, Ms. Juarez testified she didn't think Mr. Molina or Mr. Vazquez had a gun the night they were killed. She told jurors she never saw any gun other than the one shot by Mr. Pineda.

Through prosecutors' interpreter Chico Pineda Jr. -- no relation to the defendant -- Ms. Juarez, who speaks little English, said she went to the Vazquez family's mobile home on Thanksgiving Day to talk to her brother-in-law, Mario Rosales.

While she was at the trailer home looking at some photographs with the Vazquezes' two daughters, Ms. Juarez said she saw Mr. Pineda arguing with Mr. Molina before he shot and killed him standing only a few feet away.

"Mario said, `Did you come to settle old arguments or start new ones?"' Ms. Juarez told jurors.

"Then Mr. Pineda said, `I'm going to kill you,"' Ms. Juarez said in court. "He pushed Mario down and when he tried to get up, Mr. Pineda shot him."

Mr. Pineda then shot Mr. Vazquez numerous times, Ms. Juarez said.

After shooting both men, Mr. Pineda turned his gun on Ms. Juarez, firing one shot before she was able to run inside the trailer, she testified. Then Mr. Pineda returned to where Mr. Vazquez lay on his back and fired three more times, Ms. Juarez said.

During opening statements Monday, Mr. Pineda's defense attorney, Jacque Hawk, said Mr. Vazquez pulled a gun and shot Mr. Pineda's son in the leg. That prompted Mr. Pineda to fire to protect himself and his son, Mr. Hawk said.

Despite originally telling police she didn't know who shot Narciso Pineda Jr., Ms. Juarez said Tuesday that he was not shot by Mr. Vazquez but by his own father.

"Narciso Jr. said, `Come on. Let's go,' and that's when he shot him," she said. "Once he saw that his son was injured, they took off."

Eight of the nine cartridge casings investigators found at the scene were from a 9mm, the same gun used by Narciso Pineda in the shootings, Columbia County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Cullinan testified Tuesday. Police also found a casing from a .380-caliber bullet and a .380-caliber pistol, which was found next to Mr. Vazquez.

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