A registered Norteno gang member, during the first eight hours of 2013, opened fire on three men before leading police on a chase that ended in a fatal collision in the Mission, according to the prosecutor in a double-murder trial that neared its end Thursday.
Assistant District Attorney John Ullom claimed in his closing argument that David Morales should be found guilty on two counts of murder and ten other charges for his “conscious and calculated decision” to escape police, which resulted in a collision that killed the other vehicle’s passenger and a nearby pedestrian.
“On his chest, he has tattooed his philosophy, and that’s what he showed,” Ullom said, referencing Morales’ gang-related tattoo that reads “Show No Mercy.”
Ullom argues Morales, who was 19 at the time, shot at three young men in the Valencia Gardens housing projects at around 7:40 a.m. to promote his street gang before driving away, proceeding southbound on Mission Street. Morales’ attorney, however, claimed the shooting wasn’t on purpose.
“Not everything that a gang member does is gang-related,” said Deputy Public Defender Steven Olmo, arguing Morales had accidentally pulled the trigger when he shot at the three men, after they threw a rock at his car.
Twenty minutes later, he accelerated his car to 60 mph and collided with another vehicle at 21st Street and South Van Ness Avenue after police attempted to pull him over, Ullom said.
“He knew he was going back to jail,” Ullom said of Morales, a convicted felon who was on probation at the time of the incident. “He thought about what that meant and he made a selfish and horrible decision.”
The defense also argued Morales was “disoriented” and “panicked” at the time, having been under the influence of cocaine and twice the legal limit of alcohol for driving.
“He was 19 and intoxicated,” Olmo said. “It is manslaughter, it is not murder.”
Silvia Tuncun, 29, was killed when Morales’ car plowed into the vehicle she sat in, which then struck and killed 26-year-old Francisco Gutierrez as he entered a corner liquor store.
At the foot of Morales’ passenger seat, police found the loaded semiautomatic handgun he is alleged to have fired earlier that morning.
“The boys got behind me … so I tried to dip them,” Morales said to a police inspector in a recorded jail call, according to Ullom. “I figured if I shot at them, they would shoot me and kill me anyway.”
Olmo argued that while Morales is affiliated with a criminal street gang, he was trying to turn his life around and had just dropped off his fiancee at home when the incident occurred.
If convicted, Morales could be sentenced to more than 200 years in prison. The jury is set to deliberate Monday morning.