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Trial underway in Visalia Mall shooting

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Trial is underway for two men accused of shooting members of an opposing gang at the Visalia Mall two years ago.

Attorneys gave their opening statements, each trying to paint their own picture of what happened inside the mall that busy Friday night when two people were shot.

After three and a half days of jury selections, Prosecutor Michelle Verissimo began her opening statement by quoting a witness to the shooting inside the Visalia Mall back on January 27, 2012.

Verissimo said, "'You can't do this here this is a candy store!' these are the words that 22-year-old Sylvia the clerk at the checkout stand at the candy store in the local Visalia Mall uttered when she saw defendant Esquer raise his gun and fire into the sweet factory."

Verissimo says Adrian Esquer fired up to nine times at four opposing gang members and two innocent bystanders who were inside the store.

Esquer, who authorities say was the shooter, and Anthony Hanson, who turns 20 today, are each facing six counts of premeditated attempted murder.

One person was shot in the neck, the other in the leg. Both survived.

Adrian Esquer's attorney told the jury his client's life was threatened and he was only trying to protect himself.

"At least two of those two individuals were armed," said Victor Perez. "At least two of the individuals had knives on them and they were the ones provoking these two gentleman."

Anthony Hanson's attorney told jurors during his opening statement, his client had no idea a shooting was about to take place and did not fire a weapon.

"You can clearly see in the shots that we have that Mr. Hanson took off. He wasn't planning this," said Roland Soltesz. "He didn't know what was going to go on."

After opening statements Visalia Police Sgt. Adam Aguallo drew on a diagram where the two victims were found inside the candy store. Jurors were also shown pictures of the bloody scene that day.

A third suspect has been arrested in this case, Christopher Burrus, 23, was arrested last month on multiple charges of attempted murder relating to this Visalia Mall shooting case.

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Tags:
shooting, court, crimetracker, visalia, tulare county, local, jessica peres
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