Cousin takes the stand in Day 2 of Daniel Villegas trial

Villegas Trial
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A witness in the Daniel Villegas case refused to testify on Wednesday after invoking his 5th Amendment right to not incriminate himself.

Fernando Lujan was called to the stand by prosecutors to tell the jury about his statement that placed a .22- caliber weapon in Villegas’ possession. But, he claims the detective who the defense is accusing of forcing Villegas’ confession, also forced Lujan to make a statement about the gun. 

Then things got heated between the attorneys.

“The defense knows he’s taking the 5th,” said Assistant District Attorney Denise Butterworth. “I don’t know how. Now, all of a sudden,a critical witness that’s going to put a .22 in the defendant’s hand is now being helped by his own lawyer — the defendant’s lawyer — by saying, ‘Hey, he needs a lawyer. I need to take the 5th.”

Judge Sam Medrano then said from the bench, “Ms. Butterworth, I’m not going to humor you.”

Shortly thereafter, defense attorney Joe Spencer told the court, “He tells me I have told the prosecutor I’m going to take the 5th, that I don’t want to testify. I don’t know why I am here. That’s the first time I hear about it.

“Butterworth knows that when she pre-trialed Mr Lujan. She sends me an email saying, ‘What’s in my statement is not true and it’s not true because Daniel never had a .22. I put that in there because detective Marquez threatened me.'”

Lujan was excused without answering any questions.

Villegas’ cousin, David Rangel, also testified today the same detective changed his statement days after the shooting.

He said Villegas told him over the phone that he used a shotgun to shoot Armando Lazo and Bobby England. Rangel also testified he told detectives Villegas said he was only joking, but claimed that was left out of his statement. 

“He told me if I didn’t sign it, I’d go to prison and be raped is what he told me,” Rangel told the court. “So at that point, you’ll sign anything to get your ass out of that situation you’re at. Especially as a 17-year-old kid.” 

Testimony is set to continue Thursday.

NewsChannel 9 will continue live streaming testimony throughout the trial.

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