SAN BERNARDINO - Witnesses on Wednesday agreed with what prosecutors had previously suggested - that the 2000 quadruple slaying deemed the "Dead Presidents" case likely happened because there was a power struggle by local gangs.
On the second day of the trial for Froylan Chiprez, two witnesses talked about issues brewing between the San Bernardino street gangs Little Counts and Seventh Street - cliques within the West Side Verdugo, which is controlled by a prison gang.
Chiprez was a gunman in a shooting that killed four men and wounded two others on July 9, 2000, in the driveway of a Vine Street duplex in San Bernardino, Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum said.
Yoakum asked a witness on Wednesday why the shooting happened.
"Power," the man replied. "One wanting what the other other might have had - being in charge."
Prosecutors said some of the witnesses had asked that their names not be printed during the trial because of safety issues and the possibility of retaliation against them and their families.
The witness said that in 2000, one of the victims was the president of Little Counts and that his brother, who was also killed, was the president of Seventh Street.
Johnny Agudo, 33, his brother, Gilbert "Gibby" Agudo, 27, Anthony "Antdog" Luna, 23, and Luna's cousin, Marcelino "Spooky" Luna, 19, were all killed on the night of July 9, 2000.
Armondo Villasenor and Michael Velarde were shot and wounded.
The leadership issue involved in the case prompted some in law enforcement circles to dub the case "Dead Presidents."
In the early morning of July 9, 2000, Chiprez and his crew got guns and bulletproof vests and went to the residence on Vine Street to remove fellow gang members from their positions of power, Yoakum said.
"It's not unusual for gang members to wear bulletproof vests," another witness said Wednesday about the gang culture. "Most gang members, if they have a bulletproof vest, they'll wear it. Especially if they're hard-core gang members."
After plotting and planning, Chiprez and three others - Luis Mendoza, Lorenzo Arias and John Ramirez - opened fire on the victims, Yoakum said.
One of the witnesses said 45 to 50 gunshots were fired that night. Chiprez, who was seen shooting an Uzi, was responsible for the death of Gilbert Agudo, witnesses said.
Chiprez was arrested on June 21, 2011, in Tijuana and extradited in December.
He has been charged with four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and special circumstances for an intentional killing while being active in a street gang, according to court records.
Chiprez denied being involved in gangs and pleaded not guilty. He faces life without the possibility of parole.
Witness testimony is expected to continue on Monday.