Murder trial starts for Fresno man accused of killing his boss 5 years ago

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The murder trial for the man accused of shooting to death his boss is now underway five years after he was fired. (KFSN)

The murder trial for the man accused of shooting to death his boss is now underway five years after he was fired. Rafael Apolinar is facing 50-years to life in prison if convicted of gunning down his supervisor James Blanco at his home near Kings Canyon and Fowler in 2011.

Tuesday other supervisors who worked with Apolinar said he was angry after he was fired for poor performance and a bad attitude. But, his defense attorney said detectives zeroed in on him from the start and he was just a convenient suspect.

A key witness told jurors just four hours before Blanco was shot in the head Apolinar told the victim's brother the man who fired him was a punk who thought he was better than everyone else.

"Mr. Apolinar said, 'I'll tell it to his face, I'll go over to his house and tell him,'" said Brian Hutchins, Deputy District Attorney.

The 29-year-old victim died while he was taking a shower. Bullet holes shown to the jury ripped through his window and screen, before piercing Blanco in his upper body. Investigators believe Apolinar had a motive to kill his boss who terminated him six months earlier. But Apolinar's attorney told jurors his client was more of a bragger than an angry man who was out to kill his former employer.

"Evidence will show you that each and every time Rafael Apolinar talked about his dislike for Mr. Blanco he prefaced it by saying, 'I got a better paying job as a result of that firing. I now work for Mor Furniture, I now make more money,'" said Roberto Dulce, defense attorney.

An accomplice who was with the defendant the night of the murder was interviewed by detectives, but prosecutors don't believe he's the one to blame.

From the beginning, Apolinar refused to admit any involvement in the crime. But when he was questioned for a third time, detectives gave him a cigarette and he started talking.

"Detectives talked to him about a statement that he really didn't want to kill him, and so they asked him at some point, 'so your intent was just to shoot him.' He answered, 'yeah.' 'But you are saying you didn't want to kill him,' 'no, not kill him. Like I said, I didn't like the guy but I didn't hate him,'" said Hutchins.

Prosecutors said gunshot residue was found on gloves worn by Apolinar. But the defense attorney pointed out no gun powder was found in the alleged getaway truck.

Now, years later, the prime suspect is claiming he wasn't the gunman-- his friend was.

The victim's brother cried on the stand Tuesday, describing the moment he learned James was shot to death. He also said even though Apolinar found a new job, he refused to let go of the past.

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