Brown Street shooting trio appears in court | NevadaAppeal.com

Brown Street shooting trio appears in court

by F.T. Norton

Two cases were postponed Monday and one defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a Brown Street shooting that left a Carson City man critically injured.

Deputy District Attorney Tom Armstrong asked Justice of the Peace Robey Willis to continue a hearing against Rigoberto Vega-Aguilar on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm. Armstrong said the victim, Caesar Muñoz, 27, is still recovering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen that has left him in a medically induced coma and battling infection since the Nov. 24 shooting.

Vega-Aguilar’s attorney Tom Susich argued against the delay, asking that the charges be dismissed because he was never notified by the District Attorney’s Office of the request to delay the case.

“Here, they knew he wasn’t available,” Susich said. “I didn’t know about it until I read the newspaper.”

In an article in Friday’s edition of the Nevada Appeal, Chief Deputy Anne Langer said the case likely would be continued because of Muñoz’s condition.

Langer was not in court Monday due to a family emergency, Armstrong said.

“I don’t see any way to go forward without (Muñoz’s) testimony. There is no way to interview a man that’s in a coma,” Armstrong said. “I don’t see how you shoot someone, incapacitate them in the hospital, then demand they show up for court.”

Muñoz remains in the hospital, but woke up from his coma two days ago, his sister Rita Muñoz told the court. She said her brother is unable to speak because he is on a respirator and a feeding tube.

Judge Willis agreed to the continuance to Jan. 7, but denied a defense request the Vega-Aguilar be released on his own recognizance.

“I’m not even going to entertain a bail motion for Mr. Vega, knowing the bad blood between you and the Muñoz family,” he said.

In 2001, Vega-Aguilar pleaded to a lesser charge in the shooting of Muñoz’ older brother Gabriel. Gabriel Muñoz failed to appear for testimony, and the District Attorney’s Office was forced to offer a plea bargain.

Also Monday, Vega-Aguilar’s girlfriend Sharon Gomez pleaded guilty to obstructing police by failing to open the door when deputies were searching for her boyfriend. Initially, Gomez faced a felony accessory charge.

Gomez was sentenced to 17 days in jail, which she already has served, and a suspended term of 163 days in jail. She cannot consume alcohol or have any instances of dishonesty or violence.

Willis noted Gomez had a clean record until this year, when she was picked up on charges of drunken driving and domestic violence.

“I don’t know what’s going on with your life,” he said to the mother of two. “You might want to look for other friends. You have small children at home, and I don’t want them to see their mother going back to jail.”

Testimony against Israel Ralla, 22, was postponed to Wednesday. Ralla is charged with felony accessory to battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm.

Police alleged he knew Vega-Aguilar’s whereabouts when Ralla was stopped by detectives two days after the shooting. When Vega-Aguilar was arrested on Century Circle on Nov. 26, deputies found Ralla allegedly hiding in a neighboring home.

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.