Livingston man says defendants retaliated after son quit gang
MERCED - Testimony began this week in the trial of two men accused of shooting
a 54-year-old man near Livingston, allegedly because the victim’s
son had dropped out of a gang.
One of the defendants is the victim’s own nephew.
Steven Magana, 25, and Timothy Coronado, 22, are charged with attempted
murder and several enhancements tied to allegedly discharging a firearm
and being members of a criminal street gang.
Merced County sheriff’s investigators believe the defendants and
a third suspect, a 16-year-old juvenile who is being tried separately,
went to the victim’s Westside Boulevard residence on March 9 at
10:20 p.m. and shot him four times.
The victim, who admits to being a former gang member himself, survived
the incident. The identity of the victim has been withheld by the Sun-Star
because of concerns about his safety.
Merced County District Attorney David Sandhaus said the victim didn’t
identify the suspects at first because Coronado and the 16-year-old juvenile
are his nephews — and he wanted to protect them. Sandhaus said the
defendants are documented members of Livas, a Norteno criminal street
gang based in the Livingston area.
On the flip side, defense attorneys Hayden Smith and
Jeffrey Tenenbaum said their clients both deny committing the shooting, claiming they were
never at the scene. Tenenbaum is representing Magana, while Smith is representing Coronado.
Jurors heard testimony from the victim on Thursday, who acknowledged he
and his 26-year-old son had gone to Magana’s house before the shooting.
There, a fight broke out between the victim’s son and the three
men. The victim said his son was a Livas gang member who’d dropped
out. “My son wanted to box them all and let them get theirs,”
the man told jurors.
Later that night, the victim said Magana, who goes by the gang moniker
“Snoopy,” Coronado and the juvenile came to his trailer. He
testified to seeing the trio standing about 15 feet away, firing several
shots at the trailer. Investigators said he was shot in the hip, stomach
and arm. A bullet also grazed his face. “There’s no doubt
in my mind it was them,” he said.
The victim admitted he purposefully withheld information from detectives,
but later stepped forward after his son and a 4-year-old girl were shot
two months later at a residence in Livingston. The man suspected that
Coronado, Magana and the juvenile were responsible for that shooting,
although they were never charged.
“I just decided to step up and say what really happened,” he said.
When asked about his criminal background, the victim acknowledged that
he’d been in prison several times, primarily for several DUI convictions
and violation of parole. The man also said he’d been a gang member
in and out of prison, but has since “given his heart to God”
and changed his ways.
Tenenbaum told jurors during his opening statement that Magana, his client,
wasn’t at the scene when the 54-year-old victim was shot. He said
the victim had decided to “throw in” Magana’s name when
he talked to detectives.
Smith said there’s no physical evidence linking Coronado, his client,
to the crime. Smith also said it was “pitch black” outside
when the shooting happened, making it impossible for the victim to see
the shooters. “He didn’t see who did it — that’s
the bottom line,” Smith said.
Coronado and Magana face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Both men remain in custody, in lieu of $1.4 million bail.