Alleged driver in fatal shooting heads to court

While an investigation continues into the escape of a suspected killer from a county juvenile hall, his alleged accomplice in the 3-year-old murder is set for trial Thursday, prosecutors said.

Josue Orozco, 17, and his accomplice, Faustino Ayala, 23, are charged with murdering rival gang member Francisco Rodriguez, 21, in Redwood City on July 12, 2005. Orozco is accused of shooting Rodriguez dead, and Ayala of driving the getaway car, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The two had been brought into custody shortly after the crime and were awaiting a joint trial until Orozco — the youngest person ever to be charged as an adult in San Mateo County — escaped the county’s Youth Detention Center on Feb. 14, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

“The trial should last less than four weeks,” said Karen Guidotti, assistant district attorney for San Mateo County.

Meanwhile, Orozco remains at large. He could be hiding out in the Central Valley, awaiting an opportune moment to cross into Mexico, authorities say.

His escape rattled the San Mateo hillside community where the juvenile-detention facility is located and prompted an investigation into its security.

A report by San Mateo County’s chief probation officer said a supervisor left Orozco and two teens unattended as they played basketball just before the escape.

The teens, 18-year-olds Martin Villa Patino and Vanher Cho, allegedly boosted Orozco over a 15-foot wall. Orozco then fled through a hole in the outer fence thought to be cut by someone outside the facility, authorities said.

A separate, independent investigation into the security lapse is nearing completion and should be released in the next few weeks, said David Boesch, assistant county manager.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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