Defendant claims mystery man killed his former boss

FRESNO, Calif.

Rafael Apolinar was fired from his job in March 2011. In June, someone shot and killed his former boss. Despite the recorded confession, Apolinar says he's not guilty.

Homicide detectives say /*Rafael Apolinar*/ changed his story a few times, but admitted he was there when his former boss was murdered. His attorney says Apolinar may have wanted to hurt his former boss, but he chickened out, and that's when the other man pulled the trigger.

/*James Blanco*/ opened his home to his family and friends both to stay in tough financial times, and to party in happier times. Last June, a friend named Cynthia was staying the night when Blanco's life came to a sudden end.

"James had kissed her on the forehead, said he was going to take a shower," said Fresno County sheriff's deputy Tim Herzog. "Cynthia fell asleep and was awakened by the sound of gunfire."

Police arrived minutes after the gunfire to find Blanco dead in his bathroom on the other side of a broken window. The investigation led homicide detectives to Rafael Apolinar, a 21-year-old who worked for Blanco at Pleasant Mattress.

Blanco was known for hiring people who needed second chances, but he'd fired Apolinar in March.

Detectives say Apolinar eventually admitted he went to his former boss' house that night. They say Apolinar confessed to bringing a gun, but said he didn't plan to murder Blanco.

"He wanted to maybe shoot him in the arm or the leg or something along those lines, but he didn't want to kill him," said homicide detective Romeo Grajeda.

In fact, his defense attorney says Apolinar noticed an extra car at Blanco's house and got scared. But he says another man in the car -- /*Andrew Macias*/, a man he says Blanco refused to even hire -- didn't back down. He got out, ran up to the bathroom window and pulled the trigger.

Investigators say Macias actually helped them catch Apolinar. But the defense attorney says detectives got tricked, and Macias basically admitted as much with his own statement.

"Do you remember Mr. Macias telling detectives that if he was in Mr. Apolinar's position, he would lie and blame it on somebody else as well," attorney David Jones asked one of the detectives who testified at a preliminary hearing Thursday.

After the hearing, a judge decided there's enough evidence for Apolinar to stand trial for murder. If he's convicted, he faces life in prison. Macias has not been charged.

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