EL CENTRO — Miguel Romero and Irma Magana, the suspects reportedly in connection to the homicide of Brawley resident Daniella Gonzalez in February of 2021, appeared at the Imperial County Superior Courthouse in El Centro for a preliminary examination Monday, April 19, on charges of PC 187 (murder).
On Monday morning, the Honorable Judge William Quan deferred the case to the Honorable Judge Marco Nunez for the afternoon calendar.
All parties returned in person to Department 2 in El Centro to commence the preliminary examination.
A total of four witnesses were called on the first day of testimony. The first witness called by prosecutors was the officer who discovered the body in a silver vehicle on Sunday, February 7.
According to witness testimony, officers were dispatched to a stolen vehicle alert — reported the day previous — in Brawley, where a pursuit ensued. As per the responding officer, once the pursuit concluded and the vehicle was inspected, a body was discovered in the rear driver side. Responding officer testified another vehicle (blue car) appeared to be attempting to interfere with the pursuit, however, the second vehicle managed to get away at the time. According to police, Romero — who was the driver of the silver vehicle — was detained and arrested while the other assailants fled. As per witness testimony, the second vehicle (blue car) was later located, and Magana was identified as the driver.
In perhaps the most important witness testimony of the prelim, Romero took to the stand for the better half of day one. Romero testified that Magana told him Sunday, February 7, she had already shot Daniella Gonzalez. Romero also testified that Magana said she was previously in her car with Gonzalez and turned and shot her. As per Romero, Magana said, “Daniella was the ears and speaker for the people,” regarding motive. Romero suggested, Magana insinuated Gonzalez was an informant.
During Romero’s testimony, he stipulated to not have any involvement in Gonzalez’s homicide until after she had already been shot. Romero alleged, he only helped in moving the vehicle and transporting Gonzalez’s body after she was already deceased. When questioned by attorneys as to why he complied in assisting Magana, Romero said he feared he’d be next.
After Romero was excused, the final witness, a Brawley Police Department detective testified Tuesday, April 20. During testimony, the court was notified that the coroner took photos Sunday, February 7, of Gonzalez’s body in the back seat of a silver Dodge Journey and observed shell casings inside the vehicle along with multiple gunshot wounds on Gonzalez’s body. As per law enforcement officials, the autopsy revealed one gunshot wound to the abdomen and multiple gunshot wounds to the neck, back, and thigh.
Police records indicated Magana was arrested Monday, February 8, and Gonzalez was murdered Friday, February 5.
No pistol was ever found.
Magana did not testify during the preliminary examination.
Prosecutors argued circumstantial evidence was more than enough to prove Magana shot Gonzalez and that Gonzalez died of those gunshot wounds.
Due to Romero’s cooperation and established minimal involvement after the fact, a plea was entered to amend his charge from PC 187 (murder) to PC 32 (accessory).
The upper term for PC 32, if convicted, carries a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.
Romero and Magana entered pleas of no contest.
As per prosecutors, since Romero agreed to cooperate with anything to do with the murder of Gonzalez, it was agreed he would not be sentenced until after Magana’s sentencing. If Romero does not comply throughout, he could be sentenced to the upper term, stated district attorney deputies.
Romero was credited with time served and was released from custody Tuesday, April 20.
Due to Magana’s falsely reported stolen vehicle and available physical evidence corroborating witness testimony, Nunez found probable cause to find Irma Magana guilty thereof PC 187.
An arraignment for Magana was slated for Tuesday, May 4.