Jury deliberations are expected to begin Tuesday in the murder trial of a suspected gang member charged with gunning down a man in the courtyard of a Desert Hot Springs apartment building.
Edwardo Stultz, 25, of Cathedral City, is accused in the Dec. 13, 2016, slaying of 37-year-old Coachella resident Johnny Rodrigues, who prosecutors say was engaged in an argument with Stultz and another man shortly before he was shot multiple times.
Rodrigues was found just before 3 a.m. and pronounced dead at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. He “was unable to say who shot him and quickly went into cardiac arrest on scene,” court documents state, but witnesses placed Stultz and another shooter, who remains at large, at the apartment complex.
Stultz told investigators that he was at his sister’s home all day until that evening, but Deputy District Attorney Anthony Orlando said witnesses spotted him elsewhere in the city around 7 that morning. Stultz told police that no one could corroborate his presence at the home, because he was apparently alone until he left his sister’s residence sometime around 4 p.m.
Stultz was taken into custody at his Cathedral City home around 9 that night.
In his opening statement, Stultz’s attorney, Bosky Kathuria, said law enforcement and witnesses were pinning the murder on his client because they failed to catch the real killer.
“The gunman got away, so Stultz had to pay. That’s what this case is about,” said Kathuria, who described his client as “lower hanging fruit” for investigators to blame.
Defense closing arguments are expected to be delivered Tuesday morning, with jury deliberations to follow.