Jorge Banda Will Face Trial for Murder of Tulare County Deputy

August 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Before the judge announced the decision, Ivanhoe resident Emma Costano testified that she witnessed the shooting. She says she still can't get the image of detective Kent Haws' murder out of her head.Emma Costano, Ivanhoe resident and witness, "I was really scared. I cried and I went through a nervous breakdown for three months. I had to see a doctor for nerves pills. And I still haven't gotten over it. There are nights when I have nightmares of it and I just haven't been myself since then."

Costano believes Haws saved her life by stopping Jorge Banda before he could approach her and her husband. Detective Haws was shot to death while investigating a suspicious vehicle north of Ivanhoe last December. That day, Costano was waiting to pick up her granddaughter at a school bus stop when she testified that she saw the shooting happen. She says Haws was questioning Jorge Banda and that Banda shot the deputy as Haws was leaning into his car to get something.

Costano says, "There was two gunshots that were real clear and then there was one big bang like he hit him or something."

In court on Friday, the doctor who performed Haws' autopsy said the deputy was shot four times and grazed by a fifth bullet. He testified that Haws died from two bullets to the head. Attorneys argued about whether Jorge Banda was a gang member. A gang crimes detective with the Sheriff's office testified,

"He told me he actively has contacts with Sureno gang members in the Orosi and Ivanhoe area. The fact that he had a handgun on him shows he was acting as a gang member at the time of the crime."

Jorge Banda will go to trial for Haws' murder under the special allegations that he killed a peace officer on duty and committed the crime to gain notoriety in his gang. He'll be arraigned on the charges on September 11th.

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