The crime was simple, the prosecutor said: Two men killed another man and stole his car.
“What happened was this defendant and another man gunned down Frankie Gastelo,” Deputy Pima County Attorney Julie Sottosanti said in her opening arguments in the first-degree murder trial of Juan Carlos Gil.
Gil, 26, is accused of shooting and killing Francisco Antonio Gastelo, 35, in a parking lot near north Park Avenue and east Seventh Street after a University of Arizona football game on Sept. 25, 2011.
After the killing, Sottosanti said, Gil drove away in Gastelo’s 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo while the other man fled in a separate car.
The second suspected gunman has never been identified.
Gil’s attorney, Suzanne Crawford, told jurors they would hear contradictory descriptions of the suspected shooter and other evidence throughout the trial that would exonerate her client.
“There is no evidence that he was there,” Crawford said.
Crawford noted the poor lighting in the parking lot where Gastelo was shot, and said the victim identified another man as the shooter in a dying declaration.
An eyewitness to the shooting, Sarah Bigler, testified she saw a man wearing similar clothing to Gil in the parking lot where Gastelo was killed.
Bigler said she was waiting in her car for her boyfriend after the game when she noticed a man standing in front of her car wearing jeans and a white cowboy hat. When the man turned, she could see the handle of a pistol in the waistband at the back of his pants.
Another man soon approached, also armed with a gun, and the two walked in the direction of Gastelo.
“They both pulled out their guns,” Bigler said.
She testified the men shot Gastelo numerous times. The man in the cowboy hat then climbed into Gastelo’s car and drove away while the other man fled in a Dodge Ram pickup. Bigler said she didn’t get a clear look at the shooters’ faces.
Court documents said other witnesses reported seeing Gil at an apartment complex near south Campbell Avenue and east Bilby Road removing items from the Monte Carlo.
Rosemary Vera, a friend of Gastelo’s, gave reluctant testimony about a possible prior connection between the victim and Gil.
Vera said she recognized Gil when she saw him at a pretrial hearing in February. She said he looked like a man who came to her house one morning to pick up Gastelo for work.
Gastelo often stayed at the house Vera and her boyfriend shared. Asked if she recognized Gil now, Vera said she was unsure.
In addition to first-degree murder, Gil is charged with armed robbery, aggravated robbery, theft of a means of transportation and possession of a deadly weapon by a dangerous possessor. In court documents, the prosecution noted Gil was on parole or probation on two separate criminal cases at the time he was accused of killing Gastelo.
The trial continues this week in the courtroom of Superior Judge Howard Fell.