After three days of jury selection, the trial of a Yuba City man charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon began Friday with opening arguments and witnesses being called.
Victor Esquivel, 36, has been in custody since November 2019. It is alleged that Esquivel shot Elias Garibay, of Yuba City, in the head inside a Yuba City restaurant in the 100 block of Percy Avenue before fleeing the scene. Garibay was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center where he underwent several surgeries.
Esquivel was arrested in Los Angeles County the day after the shooting. The trial was streamed live in another courtroom at Sutter County Superior Court due to members of the jury taking up all audience seats to abide by social distancing. Garibay was at the courthouse on Friday along with his family to watch the trial. Garibay sat in a wheelchair and some family members wore shirts with #PrayforEli printed on the front.
During his opening argument, Esquivel’s attorney Jesse Santana said his client was being threatened and attacked by Garibay at a house near the restaurant and met his girlfriend at the restaurant after fleeing Garibay. Santana told the jury that Esquivel armed himself after hearing another gunshot at the restaurant and his gun went off while he attempted to load it.
“He did not act with intent to kill,” Santana said. “...I ask that you keep an open mind until the very end.”
The first witness called by the Sutter County District Attorney’s office was Officer Juan Zavala who responded to the shooting. He provided background about the layout of the restaurant where the shooting took place.
The trial will resume next week.