Murder trials for suspects in Oceano shooting, Paso stabbing set to begin

Two murder trials will get under way Monday at San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

A former Los Angeles gang member will stand trial for the death of 17-year-old Gabriel Salgado, who was shot in the head near an Oceano street corner in November 2011.

Armando Yepez, who lived in Nipomo at the time of the drive-by shooting, was ordered to stand trial after a two-day preliminary hearing in August. He has pleaded not guilty to three crimes, including murder and committing a crime to benefit a street gang.

According to court testimony, Yepez had exchanged words with Nipomo gang members while driving his pregnant girlfriend to work Nov. 17, 2011.

Angered by the confrontation, Yepez later sought revenge. When he couldn’t find the Nipomo gang members, he spotted a group of youths in Oceano near the corner of 21st and Paso Robles streets and allegedly fired on the crowd.

Salgado, who suffered a cardiac arrest after the shooting, died the next morning. Another teen was shot twice in the leg.

The trial starts at 10:30 a.m.

In the afternoon, the second phase of John Woody Jr.’s trial — to determine whether he was sane when he stabbed a stranger to death at the Paso Robles Laundromat last year — will start.

Earlier this month, a jury found Woody guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Martin McWilliams.

Woody, 30, was driving from his home in the San Jose area to Mexico and running out of gas when he stopped in Paso Robles on March 6, 2011. While there, he stabbed McWilliams, who was inside the Paso Robles Laundromat, 30 times.

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan said Woody killed McWilliams because he wanted to get off the streets.

Woody’s defense attorney, Ken Cirisan, said Woody — who has a documented history of mental illness — was tormented by voices when he killed McWilliams, who he thought was the source of one of the voices.

The burden of proof will now be on Cirisan to prove that Woody was insane when he stabbed McWilliams. If found legally insane, Woody would be sent to a mental health facility for treatment instead of state prison.