Crime

Trial continues in deadly car wash fight allegedly over dog feces

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Testimony continued Wednesday in the murder trial of Leo Molina, the Las Cruces car wash owner accused of killing another at his facility.

Molina, 59, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Gregory Cleto Fernandez, 39. Molina allegedly shot and killed Fernandez after Fernandez allegedly washed out dog feces from the bed of his pickup Oct. 21, 2015.  It happened on the 500 block of North Valley at Hadley in North-Central Las Cruces.

According to court documents, Molina reached out to the City's Codes Department days before the shooting, telling employees that Fernandez had washed the feces out of his truck more than once, and that he wanted something done right away.

The documents state the codes employee told Molina she would send an officer to respond and they would determine what to do about it. That's when Molina allegedly told her, "Well, I'll tell you what, if this doesn't go the way I want, I have a gun and I'll take care of this myself".

The day of the shooting, Las Cruces Police said Fernandez was parked in the one of the bays when he got into a fight with Molina. Documents state witnesses saw Fernandez try to walk away from Molina twice, when Molina allegedly grabbed Fernandez by the shirt, and swung him to the ground.

Police said Molina pulled out a gun and shot Fernandez in the upper torso. Fernandez later died at the hospital. Molina was also injured during the fight and required medical treatment at a hospital. 

Back in the courtroom Wednesday morning, row after row was packed, with most of Fernandez's family taking up the benches.

The first witness called to the stand was Officer Javier Ontiveros, and Code Enforcement Officer with the Las Cruces Police Department.

Ontiveros testified that Molina told him Fernandez would repeatedly dump dog feces in a drain at the car wash. Ontiveros said if Molina wanted to take this "illegal dumping" to court, it would be a lengthy process, adding that Molina would have to serve as a witness.

Later, the prosecution displayed photos taken by Shari Vialpando-Hill, an evidence technician with LCPD.

A photo of Molina showed him covered in scraped knees and knees. The graphic photo showed his blood-shot eyes, swollen and bruised.

Hill testified a nurse asked Molina what happened, and Molina said the bay was wet and he slipped. Molina then allegedly told her a person took that opportunity to get on top of him and stick his fingers in Molina's eyes.

Testimony continues Thursday.

 

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