Closing arguments begin in "meth dungeon" murder trial

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Prosecutors give their final arguments in the case of two men accused of killing a convicted felon over an argument involving a money scam.

Richard Escalon and Marcos Gonzales are on trial for the murder of Christopher Zuniga.

Prosecutors said they believe both men tried to cover up the crime. They pointed to a recorded police interview with Marcos Gonzales as evidence he was attempting to cover up the murder. In it, Gonzales appears nervous, tapping his feet and crossing his arms, as he repeatedly denied to detectives having even seen Christopher Zuniga in recent weeks.

But investigators insist the two had argued, along with Richard Escalon, just days earlier in the basement of a Sunnyside estate -- a place Escalon called a "meth dungeon" after the two drove the homeowner out in fear.

On Monday, prosecutors reiterated the fight started over a bogus check that Christopher Zuniga tried to deposit in Escalon's bank account. "They were mad about the scam. Mr. Zuniga was scamming the scam. Scamming Marc's free ride and scamming the deal he actually made with Mr. Zuniga to steal from MaryAnn Mitchell."

During the trial Gonzales claimed he was house sitting, but invited several people to stay there and use drugs. When he had Escalon try to kick Zuniga out of the house over the check, he says Zuniga attacked them and the two acted in self defense. "I didn't hit him that hard. I just backed him up and he stopped attacking me."

But prosecutors say the evidence says otherwise. Detectives found Zunigas blood in several places inside the basement, on a baseball bat, as well as on Gonzales' shoes. Several witnesses also testified they saw Gonzales hit Zuniga with the bat, and Escalon stab him in the kitchen before the two loaded his body into Zuniga's SUV -- and the car was later found burned in an orchard near Del Rey.

"I summit to you, if they really thought for one second that what they were doing was justified, or if they believed themselves they were being attacked... they wouldn't have done that," said prosecutors.

As for the police interview, Gonzales said he didn't mentioned it because investigators wanted him to lie about what happened.

The defense will finish it's closing arguments on Tuesday.
Related Topics:
methamphetaminemurderfresnotrialcourtFresno - Sunnyside
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