One of three gang members accused of brutally killing another gang member at the Yakima County jail goes on trial Monday.
Attorneys begin jury selection Monday at the Yakima Valley SunDome in the trial of Felipe Luis Jr., who is charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Jacob Ozuna at the Yakima County jail in 2018. Two-hundred people are expected to report for jury selection.
The jury selection is being done at the arena to help with distancing as part of the court’s COVID-19 protocols.
Luis, 21, is accused of participating in the attack on Ozuna, 36, on Dec. 9, 2018, in the jail’s Norteño gang housing unit. Ozuna, 36, was in jail awaiting trial in the death of Dario Alvarado, also a documented Norteño gang member, outside a home near Toppenish earlier that year.
Luis, of Yakima, Julian Luis Gonzalez, 23, of Toppenish and Deryk Alexander Donato, 27, of White Swan were charged in the killing, which was captured on security cameras, according to court documents.
The video showed the three approach Ozuna on the upper level of the housing unit and start to kick and punch him, according to court documents. The attack stopped when Ozuna lost consciousness, but the video showed his attackers kicking him in the head when his arm moved, court documents said.
After kicking him, the three dragged Ozuna down the stairs by his feet, his head striking each step on the way down, according to a written description of the video’s contents. Ozuna again moved his arm, the documents said, and the suspects stomped on Ozuna’s face until he again stopped moving.
Deputies said the attack lasted more than 13 minutes. Ozuna’s injuries included bleeding in his brain, three broken ribs, inhaled blood in his lungs, a ruptured artery in his chest and kidney damage.
Prosecutors say the killing was gang-
motivated and that Ozuna was targeted for killing a fellow gang member.
Gonzalez was sentenced to 24 years in prison in March after entering an Alford plea to first-degree murder. An Alford plea allows Gonzalez to maintain his innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to win a conviction.
Donato was to have been tried with Luis, but his trial was postponed for further evaluation of his mental competency. Donato, according to court documents, said he was hearing voices that told him what to do, including to not trust his attorney.
If convicted, Luis would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The trial before Judge Kevin Naught is expected to last three weeks.