Trial begins for man accused of drive-by shooting

A Kingman woman related her brush with death Tuesday at the opening day of the trial of a Golden Valley man accused of a drive-by shooting in Kingman 16 months ago.

Jesus Caballero is charged with felony first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and aggravated assault in the shooting death of Raymond Viera on Nov.

15, 2001.

"It's not OK to kill a person because they're a bad person," Deputy Mohave County Attorney Greg McPhillips said in his opening statements.

McPhillips went on to describe how Viera and his companion, Vanessa Wise, drove to Caballero's home earlier that night.

Wise took the stand to testify that Viera and Caballero only talked for a few minutes before Viera walked back to the car, mumbling that Caballero was a coward, and they drove off.

At the same time, a pickup truck driven by Michael Platt drove up with his truck's familiar lone headlight.

Wise testified that when they drove away, she recognized the same vehicle behind them with the driver flashing his lone headlight.

She pulled her vehicle over and was coming to a stop when she heard five shots ring out.

Several bullets came through the back window and instinctively she ducked as glass flew everywhere.

One bullet barely missed her head, she said.

Wise also saw a bullet strike Viera in the neck.

Viera was sitting in the passenger seat.

She also testified that Viera did not get out of the car.

Police recovered three of the bullets fired.

In opening remarks, Caballero's attorney, Lee Novak, argued that Viera was under the influence of methamphetamine, a drug often linked to violent behavior.

He said that Caballero believed that Viera was armed and threatened to shoot him.

Viera also had a syringe in his pocket and a modified screwdriver, commonly called a shank, in the glove compartment of the car, Novak said.

Wise testified she saw Viera with neither the screwdriver nor a gun.

Novak argued that Viera stole a gun from Caballero's Baker Drive residence before the shooting and reportedly threatened to shoot Caballero with his own gun.

Novak also said witnesses told police that Viera got out of the car and had reached back into car like he was reaching for a gun.

"The law permits you to protect yourself," Novak told the seven-men, four-women jury.

"To use force to repel force against you."

Viera, who lived in Lake Havasu City, had previously pleaded guilty to a murder while in custody at the Department of Corrections.

Caballero, 25, is also charged with felony theft of a means of transportation for stealing a motorcycle in Bullhead City Nov.

11, 2001.

That trial is expected to begin June 10.

Caballero was arrested Nov.

28, 2001, at a Kingman residence after a two-week manhunt following Viera's shooting in the 3600 block of Schaffer Avenue.

MCSO detectives arrested Caballero's companion, Michael Platt, shortly after the shooting after locating the truck at Gordon Drive and Castle Rock Road.

Platt was charged with hindering prosecution and he received probation after pleading guilty to that charge last year.