KINGMAN - Alberto Orozco was a low-level methamphetamine dealer who was murdered not because he was involved in a drug deal gone bad, or that he owed money to his supplier, but because he had $400 in cash that his killer needed to help pay his mortgage.
That's what prosecutor Doug Camacho told jurors in his opening statement late Monday afternoon in the murder trial of Russell Eugene Shields.
Orozco, known as "Beto" to friends and family, received a phone call sometime after midnight on July 18, 2011. On the other end was Shields, who invited him over to his Apache Street home so Orozco could "re-up," drug slang for buying more drugs to be sold on the streets of Kingman.
James Duncan had just paid Orozco money owed to Orozco at the Motel 6 when Orozco's phone rang. No methamphetamine was exchanged for cash at Shields' home that night.
Instead, Shields allegedly shot Orozco with a shotgun aimed at his chest. Shields and a friend, John Langan, cleaned up the blood, placed Orozco's body in his own car and abandoned both on a nearby street, according to Camacho. The men then drove to a field, broke apart the shotgun and threw parts of it into the field.
The night started innocently enough for Shields and Langan. According to Camacho, the pair, along with their girlfriends and other people, went bowling and then went to a friend's house.
Sometime before midnight, Shields and Langan left the party and called Orozco, presumably to tell him they had meth.
They were gone a long time, long enough for Shields' girlfriend to call his cell phone to find out where he was. The men eventually arrived back at the party, where Shields pulled out a "wad of money" totaling $400 and asked a friend if he could borrow $300 more so he could pay his mortgage.
A homeowner found Orozco's body, slumped over, and called Kingman police. Officers found Orozco's phone and noted the last call he received was from Shields' girlfriend. His cell phone was in her name.
Shields, said Camacho, denied any involvement in the killing, and even told detectives he would help them find the murderer, but his story kept changing. During one interview held about a month after the murder, Camacho said a detective noticed there was blood on one of Shields' shoes.
He gave them the shoe and a sample of the blood was sent to the crime lab.
The results matched Orozco, said Camacho. At that point, Shields told police he was present at the killing, but he said Langan was the shooter.
Langan blamed Shields, saying he was in the bathroom when the shotgun was fired and that he only helped Shields clean up evidence and move the body out of friendship. He showed detectives where the gun was dumped. Parts of it were recovered in the field.
Langan pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felony hindering prosecution and was sentenced to eight years in prison last year.
Testimony begins this morning at 9:30 a.m.
Langan is expected to testify, but prosecutors won't call him to the stand. Defense attorney Christian Ackerley will do so when he presents his defense.