A mistral was declared Monday after a jury was unable to overcome an impasse in deliberations over the fate of a 20-year-old man accused of gunning down a neighbor and wounding the victim’s brother during a confrontation at a girl’s coming-of-age party in Jurupa Valley.
A Riverside jury went behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon following a week of testimony in the trial of Gael Ian Cazares, who is charged with murder, attempted murder and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations for the attack last year that claimed the life of 22-year-old Manuel Villaman.
The panel informed Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz Monday afternoon that it was hopelessly deadlocked, at which point he declared the mistrial.
The judge scheduled a retrial status conference for Dec. 16 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Cazares remains held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
According to a trial brief filed by the prosecution, Cazares and Villaman had prior conflicts, including arguments about the defendant’s reckless driving on their street. Cazares also held a grudge over the victim’s relationship with a woman they both knew, court papers stated.
On the night of May 29, 2021, the men and others from their neighborhood were invited to a quinceanera for a teenage girl at a residence in the 4900 block of Rutile Street, near Birmingham Avenue.
The prosecution alleged that Cazares went to the party armed with a self-assembled Glock “ghost” pistol.
Witnesses told investigators the defendant arrived looking for trouble. When he encountered Villaman near the entrance to the house, he verbally engaged him with hostility, then pushed him into the driveway, prompting Villaman to push back, culminating in a shoving match that went into the street, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said Villaman’s younger brother, whose identity was not disclosed, tried to intervene and was himself shoved by the defendant.
“When (Villaman’s brother) attempted to intervene a second time, he saw the defendant pull out a gun,” according to the brief. “He immediately tried to run away when he heard three gunshots.”
The young man was hit in the abdomen, and his brother was shot once through the chest and another time in the buttocks, the brief said.
Cazares allegedly jumped into a car and raced home.
Paramedics arrived minutes later and pronounced Villaman dead at the scene. His brother was taken to Riverside Community Hospital, where he underwent surgery and ultimately recovered from his wound.
Witnesses identified Cazares as the alleged assailant, and he was taken into custody without incident the following day.
He has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.