While they worked for a Mexican drug cartel, two men are accused of kidnapping and killing victims and dissolving the dead bodies in vats of acid.
The trial of Jose Olivera Beritan and David Valencia, both alleged members of Los Palillos, continued its second day of opening statements.
After prosecutors presented their case to the jury calling the defendants “ruthless, cold-blooded, and sociopathic," the defense pointed out that neither fingerprints nor DNA from the defendants was found at any of the crime scenes.
The only evidence that prosecutors will use to try and convict Olivera and Valencia, the defense argued, is testimony from Guillermo Moreno and his little brother Carlos Pena, 19.
Both Moreno and Pena are also alleged members of Los Palillos or “The Toothpicks.”
When the men were brought in for questioning, Moreno and Pena claimed to not have any information regarding kidnappings or murders the defense told the jury Thursday.
After the brothers saw they were going to be prosecuted with murder and may face the death penalty, they then began cooperating with authorities and fingered Beritan and Valencia at the investigators’ urging according to the defense.
Beritan and Valencia are charged with murder in the deaths of two men whose corpses were dissolved in 55-gallon barrels of propane-heated liquid inside a San Diego home. Beritan is also charged with another killing.
Dissolving bodies in vats of liquid is a common method for Mexican cartels to dispose of bodies but is rare in the United States.
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