One teen admits to lying, two others also change stories to protect uncle charged with murder

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three teenagers changed their stories in court Tuesday to protect an uncle accused of murdering another teenager last month in San Joaquin.

16-year-old Angel Trejo helped his mother move out from a San Joaquin apartment in December 2019, but never made it to her new home.

Hileberto Valtierra shot and killed him.

"We located a gunshot wound on the back of the head of the decedent," said Det. Juan Galindo of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. "There's also one on his left side shoulder."

Valtierra also turned the gun on Angel's 18-year-old brother, Esteban, hitting him in the back from about 20 feet away and putting him in the hospital for several days.

But what happened before the gunfire will determine whether murder charges stick.

Everyone agrees the Trejo brothers and Valtierra wrestled and threw punches at each other.

Fresno County sheriff's detectives interviewed several witnesses, including three teenagers who are related to Valtierra.

The teens initially said Valtierra was winning the fight.

But in court, all three changed their stories. They now say the Trejos were winning the fight when Valtierra opened fire, building a case for self-defense.

And all three hinted the gun was Angel's.

A 15-year-old nephew said Valtierra just found it on the ground, picked it up, and fired at Angel.

"Because Angel was right in front of him, attacking him," said the 15-year-old.

But under questioning from prosecutor Tim Galstan, a 14-year-old nephew admitted he was lying.

"When my sister tried breaking up the fight, she tossed it to him," the boy said of the gun.

And he said the fight had stopped by then, matching what Esteban Trejo told detectives.

"They all stood up," said Det. Adrian Villegas of the sheriff's office. "The defendant yelled to his niece 'Get the gat. Get the gat.'"

The niece, 19-year-old Adriana Hernandez, stuck to the new story, though.

She testified she was on Xanax, molly, ecstasy, and marijuana, so she didn't remember a lot, but she specifically remembered Angel dropping the gun on the ground.

She picked it up, then put it back on the ground near the combatants, then Valtierra picked it up, and ended the fight with gunfire.

Hernandez told detectives Valtierra gave her the gun, and she gave it back right before he shot the brothers.

She also told detectives she'd seen the gun before in Valtierra's trunk.

But now, she says she saw it before when Angel showed it to her.

A judge decided Tuesday there is enough evidence for Valtierra to stand trial for murder. He'll be back in court in February.
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