José Hector Luna Morales was a kind, friendly and responsible young man, says his family.
So it came as a great shock to them when he was found shot to death at a Surrey house in the summer of 2010.
Several of Morales’ family members were at New Westminster Supreme Court this week for the start of the second-degree murder trial of Lester Olivia Buezo Oseguera, who is accused of killing Morales.
Morales’ mom Vilma Luna Morales and sister Jacqueline Luna Morales traveled to Canada from El Salvador for the court proceedings, hoping to get some answers to help them comprehend what happened the night their loved one was killed.
“They understand it is a hard process,” said Gloria Hernandez on behalf Vilma and Jacqueline Luna, who speak Spanish, “but they try to be prepared for it.
“They want to close this episode of their life.”
Oseguera, 30, is charged with second-degree murder and four other weapons-related charges in connection with the Aug. 30, 2010 incident that resulted in Morales’ death.
According to testimony Tuesday (April 17) from Surrey RCMP Const. Aaron Labrum, who was first on the scene, police were called to the area of 112 Avenue and Park Avenue (near 138 Street) in Surrey by a woman who initially reported seeing a woman running down the street with two men following her. The witness said she saw the two males go back in a nearby house.
Labrum told the court he heard a gunshot from inside the house shortly after he arrived and then saw a back door open and two men exit. One, Labrum said, remained at the door, while the second man other ran out of sight. Labrum said he then heard a gunshot at the front of the house, where two of his fellow police officers were.
The man that remained cooperated with police, said Labrum, and said a friend was in the house and had likely been shot.
Police found Morales’ body in a basement suite in the house. According to testimony from Cpl. Patricia Lachance, bullet shell casings from a 9 mm handgun were found at the scene, as was some drug paraphernalia and prescription drug bottles.
Oseguera’s lawyer David Tarnow indicated “drug ingestion” would be part of the defense’s argument.
Morales had come to Canada in 2008 on a work visa and had a job as a painter. Other men in the house where he lived were also painters, said his family, including Oseguera.
Morales, 28, had only lived in Surrey for a year-and-a-half before he was killed.
“He was very family oriented,” said cousin Patricia Marquez, recalling the last time she saw him was at her daughter’s sixth birthday party shortly before he died. “Everywhere we went, everyone loved him on the spot.”
Wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, Oseguera listened to the court proceedings through an interpreter.
His trial, which is slated to continue for several more weeks, is being heard by a 12-member jury and Justice Catherine Wedge.