EL CENTRO – Preliminary proceedings began Monday, August 5th, for the trial of Martin ‘Tiny’ Andrade at the Imperial County Courthouse.
Andrade is charged in the stabbing death of Martin Garza on January 6, 2013.
Donald LeVine is the defense attorney for Andrade and Jill Cristich is the prosecutor for the County.
On January 6th, Garza was heading to a party in El Centro with two friends, Lloyd Johnson and Daniel C., when they were confronted by a group of men at the intersection of 7th Street and Commercial Avenue. Garza was stabbed immediately and a fight then ensued. All of the men that confronted the trio had knives, according to Daniel C.
Garza later died of multiple stab wounds.
The autopsy was performed on January 8, according to Deputy Coroner Steven Green. Garza was stabbed in the upper left shoulder, the upper left chest, and the upper left back.
Cause of Death was a stab wound to the heart. Manner of Death was homicide.
The investigating detective, Detective Hernandez, was questioned by both attorneys about specific events of the murder.
In his incident report, Hernandez said that both Johnson and Daniel C. indentified Andrade as the stabber of Garza.
“Johnson grabbed his chin and his eyes welled up with tears,” said Hernandez. “He pointed to a six-pack of pictures of suspects and pointed to Andrade and said ‘this guy’. He was visibly shaken.”
Johnson played football with Garza on the Brawley Wildcat team.
Officer Luis Hernandez, a 20 year veteran of the El Centro Police Department, testified about the problems with the North Side Centro gang over the years.
“NSC is a criminal street gang,” said Hernandez. “Their crimes include homicide, shootings, stabbings, and drug dealings.”
He had dealt with Andrade before.
“Andrade is an admitted and documented member of the North Side Centro gang and is tattooed with the marks of the gang on his chest and the back of his neck,” said Hernandez. “NSC and #12 are some the gang marks. His gang moniker is Tiny.”
The North Side Centro gang claims the area of the incident as their territory and has an estimated membership of 50 to 80.
Prosecutor Cristich asked Detective Hernandez about different examples of stabbings the gang had been convicted of over the past few years. Most were a group of gang members confronting a sole victim.
Preliminary proceedings will continue Tuesday.