The courtroom is full during the preliminary hearing for Emilio Roman and Gonzalo Munguia. The judge decided Tuesday that the two will be tried for the 2006 murder of Daniel Gallegos.

– Two Hollister teenagers will stand trial in what authorities
allege was the gang-related murder of Daniel Gallegos a little more
than a year ago, a judge ordered Tuesday.
Hollister – Two Hollister teenagers will stand trial in what authorities allege was the gang-related murder of Daniel Gallegos a little more than a year ago, a judge ordered Tuesday.

A gang enhancement makes Gonzalo Munguia, 19, eligible for the death penalty, which District Attorney Candice Hooper plans to seek. The enhancement does not make Emilio Roman, 18, eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor when the death occurred.

Roman and Munguia will be arraigned Sept. 17 on charges of first-degree murder along with the special allegation, Judge Alan Hedegard said. During a July 2006 altercation in the 200 block of Hillcrest Road, the 18-year-old Gallegos was run over with a car and died of his injuries early the next morning, police said.

Authorities allege Munguia was driving the car that killed Gallegos.

Steven Gallegos testified Monday that the fight was not gang-related and that Roman was not in the car that ran over his brother, eventually causing his death. Hollister police officers detailed their investigation of Gallegos’ death in court Monday and Tuesday and testified that the incident was gang-related.

Hollister Police Sgt. James Weathers testified that Munguia and Roman are documented members of the Sureño street gang. The sergeant also testified that Gallegos was an associate of the rival Norteño street gang and his younger brother, who was with the victim at the time, was a documented Norteño gang member.

District Attorney Candice Hooper said she was pleased with the judge’s order.

“This was an appropriate holding order given the circumstances,” Hooper said. “A loss of life happened and there’s nothing you can do to make that better. It was a horrible, horrible event.”

Hooper argued the murder was premeditated and Roman helped Munguia run over Gallegos with a car because he punched the victim to the ground.

“These two individuals hunted the brothers down,” she said.

Roman’s attorney, Greg LaForge, requested Hedegard dismiss the charges and release his client.

“It’s unfortunate but not surprising,” LaForge said of the order. “However, proving Emilio committed murder beyond a reasonable doubt is a whole new ball game. We’re confident there is no way Emilio Roman will be convicted of murder.”

During his closing statement, LaForge argued that Roman did not intend to kill Gallegos. The attorney said Roman simply got in a fight.

“This case is not about a gang fight,” LaForge said in court Tuesday. “It is about two individuals who approached two individuals, and it ended in a tragic result.”

Steven Gallegos testified Monday that there had been previous altercations between the Gallegos brothers and Roman.

Munguia’s attorney, Bud Landreth, said his client’s actions were not premeditated.

“I’m a little surprised (Hedegard) held him to answer on murder,” Landreth said.

Landreth requested Hedegard to hold Munguia to answer for vehicular manslaughter during his closing statement.

“It’s just a terrible accident where he ran over him and couldn’t get the car off,” Landreth said outside of the courthouse Tuesday.

Munguia and Roman will be arraigned Sept. 17. The defendants are being held at the San Benito County Jail pending trial.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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