A 36-year-old felon opened fire on a gang rival in Santa Ana, but instead killed a dad working in his food truck on Father’s Day, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday while the defendant’s attorney said his client was not the killer.
Jose De Jesus Gomez-Ochoa is charged with murder with a special-circumstances allegation of gang activity and sentencing enhancements for discharge of a gun causing death.
Gomez-Ochoa has two prior strike convictions for drug dealing in 2011 and possession of a firearm by a felon in 2012.
Gomez-Ochoa is accused of killing 52-year-old Eliu Armando Gramajo on June 19, 2016.
Just after 7 p.m. that day, Gramajo, a father of three, was working in his food truck at 1702 Evergreen St. when the defendant opened fire on Vladimir Silva, but instead wounded Gramajo, Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera said in her opening statement.
“He was working on Father’s Day to support his family,” Madera said.
The food truck had been there for several years on the border of “two warring gangs in Santa Ana,” Madera said.
“Evergreen was at the heart of a gang dispute,” she added.
Gramajo’s food truck was tagged with graffiti of a rival gang of the defendant’s, Madera said.
Surveillance video from a laundry business was played for jurors showing Ochoa get out of his Chevy pickup, “gun in hand,” and dash down an alley toward Evergreen with another man standing by the vehicle as a lookout, Madera said.
Silva, who is expected to testify in the trial, is known as “Danger” and is associated with a rival gang of the defendant’s, Madera said. He was at the food truck to pick up a meal when Ochoa opened fire on him, Madera said.
Ochoa was arrested the following day. When he was shown stills from the surveillance video, he denied it was him or his truck, Madera said.
But during a jailhouse calls to his mother and girlfriend, he made multiple incriminating comments about the evidence against him in the case and at one point, said, “I killed him, mom — he was innocent,” according to Madera.
Ochoa’s attorney, Marin G. Stapleton Jr., said, “This is a case about who killed Mr. Gramajo.”
He added, “It was clear that this was a tragedy. … But this trial is about who’s responsible for it.”
Ochoa “lied his way through” his “entire interview” with police but, “He admitted it was his gang that killed the victim in the case while shooting at my client,” Stapleton said.