Defendant in murder trial says he was reacting to threat
Appeal Staff Writer
A frowning Maximilliano Cisneros told a Carson City jury Thursday he thought he was going to be shot and was in fear for his life when he opened fire on two men, killing Juan Carlos Alegria and injuring Fidel Fuentes.
“As soon as I saw (Fuentes) reaching behind his back, I started shooting and running,” the 23-year-old Los Angeles man said. “I didn’t want to shoot nobody.”
Cisneros took the stand to answer charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the May 24, 2004, shooting on Eighth Street. He was the only witness for the defense following three days of prosecution testimony. Closing arguments will begin this morning.
Cisneros said he was visiting Katie Armstrong’s apartment sometime around 11 p.m. when someone began banging on the doors and windows trying to get inside.
He said Katie looked scared and asked him to jump out the window of her 3-year-old daughter’s bedroom, but when he went in the back of the apartment, he heard someone trying to get in the window.
He said it sounded to him like there could be seven or eight people outside.
On cross-examination from Deputy District Attorney Tom Armstrong, Cisneros said when the banging began, he became frightened and loaded a bullet into the chamber of a .40-caliber handgun he was carrying in the hopes of selling.
When Fuentes kicked in the door of the apartment, Cisneros said, Fuentes confronted him in the child’s bedroom. Cisneros pulled out the gun and told Fuentes to leave, and Fuentes ran out of the apartment.
He said he assumed Fuentes was gone, but when Cisneros got outside, Fuentes was there taunting him.
“I was shocked to see him there. I figured if he was still there he probably had a gun,” he said. “As soon as I saw Fidel reach for his back, you know, I had to react to that.”
Cisneros said repeatedly he didn’t mean to kill Alegria or shoot Fuentes. He called the shots a “warning.”
“I don’t know how many times I shot,” he said.
“Each one of those shots struck somebody,” Tom Armstrong noted.
“That was not my intention. I didn’t want to shoot nobody. I was scared,” he said. “I feel horrible.”
Armstrong asked Cisneros what Alegria was doing right before the shooting. Witnesses to the shooting described him as a bystander.
“He was standing there looking at me with his hands in his jacket pocket,” he said.
“Did Juan Carlos Alegria do anything to deserve to be shot?” Tom Armstrong asked.
“Nope,” Cisneros said after a pause. “I didn’t mean to shoot him. I wasn’t aiming at him. I just shot and ran for my life.”
— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.