Trial for alleged teen shooter may be postponed again

A trial for the youngest person to be charged as an adult for murder in San Mateo County may be continued for the fifth time, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Josue Orozco, 17, and his accomplice, Faustino Ayala, 23, are charged with murder and participating in a criminal street gang in connection with the death of 21-year-old Francisco Rodriguez in Redwood City on July 12, 2005. Ayala is also charged with a parole violation.

During a hearing this morning, Judge Clifford Cretan heard a motion from defense attorneys to postpone the jury trial date, which is set for Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini said. Cretan has tentatively continued the trial until he hears the arguments Tuesday, during which time prosecutors will be allowed to give the judge information on why they think the trial should not be continued.

Cretan will make a decision Tuesday at 10 a.m. on whether to postpone the trial, Giannini said.

During the defendants' 2006 preliminary hearing a witness testified that he saw a man, who prosecutors believe to be Orozco, get out of a vehicle the afternoon of the shooting and reach for something in his waistband. Prosecutors allege that Orozco shot Rodriguez and that Ayala was driving the car. Orozco was 14 at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors allege that Rodriguez's killing was gang-related and that he was shot because of the color of his clothing. The witness said that he, Rodriguez and another friend ran in opposite directions when they realized the man had a gun. He said no words were exchanged between Rodriguez and the shooter.

Rodriguez was shot once in the back of his head near an apartment complex in the 400 block of Redwood Avenue, according to Redwood City police.

He was found lying in the rear carport area of the complex.

Three other teenage suspects were also charged with homicide and participating in a criminal street gang, but will be tried in juvenile court.

Orozco and Ayala both remain in custody on no-bail status. If Orozco is found guilty the judge would retain the discretion to sentence him as a juvenile, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

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