Detective cites inconsistencies in Cardoza statements as testimony begins
David LeGros, the lead detective in the investigation of Desiree Bragg’s death, testified Wednesday that there were a number of inconsistencies in Leonardo Cardoza’s story after he crashed his car into Bragg.
She was crushed against the wall of her mother’s home on Cinnabar Avenue off College Parkway on Jan. 26, 2013, and died four days later.
LeGros said Cardoza first told him he turned his daughter over to family members that afternoon to go to Lake Tahoe, then cashed his paycheck and had a couple of Guinness stouts at Bully’s, near where the crash occurred.
He told LeGros he left because two people near his table were making racial slurs and gave a detailed description of them.
But LeGross testified an examination of both the sports bar’s camera footage and the receipts shows Cardoza was not there that night. Further investigation, he said, showed Cardoza cashed his paycheck that morning at Bodines, then drank at The Blue Bull and Jimmy G’s in downtown Carson City.
Detective Sal Acosta made a similar statement, saying that after all the evidence was reviewed, “he was not at Bully’s.”
Cardoza also denied following Bragg and her fiancé, Steven Castro, from U.S. Highway 50 at Lompa Lane to where the incident occurred. His lawyer Jesse Kalter said in opening statements that Castro was attacking a seriously drunken Cardoza, who tried to leave the scene on Cinnabar but mistakenly put the minivan in drive instead of reverse.
Castro testified in the preliminary hearing that Cardoza backed up to get out from behind Bragg’s car, then accelerated toward her, crashing into her. He said he tried unsuccessfully to push his fiancee out of the way.
“I noticed he backed the car up,” he said in that hearing. When Castro pushed Bragg to one side, he said, Cardoza “turned his wheel a bit and crashed into Desiree.”
Castro was not in court Wednesday. Despite issuing a subpoena, prosecutors have been unable to locate him. That forced them to have his preliminary hearing testimony read into the record.
LeGros testified that Cardoza’s story changed in other ways as well — including the number of beers he drank that night and the route he allegedly took to find his sister’s home.
Asked about the inconsistencies, LeGros testified that suspects sometimes “try to be deceptive and stay as far away from an area as possible.”
Bragg’s brother John also testified he didn’t see Castro outside or any attack when the vehicles pulled into the driveway. He said he and his mother went outside after the vehicle rammed into the wall of the house.
When he got outside, he said, “Desiree was on the ground and Steven was holding her head.”
He said he did see the van backing up.
Kalter pointed out a couple of inconsistencies in Castro’s testimony, as well including his original claim he hit Cardoza once before the crash when he told LeGros he hit him 20 times.
Cardoza faces a charge of open murder in Bragg’s death and a charge of attempting to kill Castro. Testimony resumes Thursday before District Judge James Wilson.