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20-year old man acquitted (found not guilty by a jury) of attempted first-degree murder and endangering safety. Attorney Van Wagner unravels confused witness to let the jury see the unreliable testimony. Jury acquits on all counts. Van Wagner defined his and the defendant's mother's opinion when he said, "We are not just happy, we are relieved."
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Man Not Guilty Of Murder - Jury Acquits

A 20-year-old Madison man was found not guilty Friday of attempted first-degree murder in a town of Madison drive-by shooting last year.

The Capital Times, Saturday, October 11, 2003
By Mike Miller, The Capital Times

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours Friday before finding Edgar Covarrubias, 20, not guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and endangering safety for the Feb. 21, 2002, attempt on the life of Enos Moore, 22, who lived at the Pheasant Ridge Trail apartment complex where the shooting occurred.

Covarrubias remained passive as Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan read the not guilty verdicts. But his mother, who along with other relatives had been present for the duration of the week-long trial, put her head in her hands and wept. Other friends grinned and nodded to one another, and after the jury had filed from the courtroom, Covarrubias arose to hug his attorney, Christopher Van Wagner.

"Justice has been served," said one of the numerous relatives present.

The case boiled down to whether the jury would believe Moore's version of events or that of Covarrubias and two alibi witnesses. That a shooting occurred was not at issue. Assistant District Attorney Paul Humphrey showed evidence of several bullets having struck the apartment building where Moore lived, with several of them entering the building, including one which grazed a sleeping tenant in an apartment. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt in the shooting.

The issue at trial was who fired those bullets. "I say it was Edgar Covarrubias," Moore said when he took the stand on the first day of testimony. But under cross examination by Van Wagner, Moore hedged and conceded that he did not get a look at the face of the shooter and could not say what race or gender the shooter was. He said he thought it was Covarrubias because the shooter had on a white shirt, as did Covarrubias that night, and that he saw Covarrubias in the van from which the shots were fired.

The shooting followed a day in which Moore called Covarrubias seeking some marijuana for a friend, identified only as Juan. Covarrubias, who admitted on the witness stand to having dealt drugs, went to Moore's apartment to sell marijuana to Juan, but the two argued over the price and a disgruntled Covarrubias left.

Later that evening, Covarrubias and his friends were at the Amazon Club on University Avenue and Moore and the mysterious Juan also showed up. Juan punched Covarrubias and bouncers immediately rushed all the participants out the front door except for Covarrubias, who was ushered out the back.

According to Covarrubias' version of events, by the time he got back to the blue van he had arrived in, his companions had left in the van. He said he called another friend, Tony Catica, who drove downtown to pick him up.

Catica verified that and both he and his girlfriend, Christina Lopez, testified that Covarrubias was in their apartment from when they arrived there until the next morning.

Cell phone records showed two calls from Covarrubias to Catica at the time Covarrubias said he was seeking a ride that night.

Moore was on the phone with a girlfriend when someone opened fire on him and he said "Edgar and them guys" were shooting at him. Humphrey said that was enough corroboration to convict Covarrubias.

But Van Wagner said Moore had made up his mind that the shooter was Covarrubias once he saw a white shirt and that is why he kept saying "Edgar and them guys" were the ones.

After the verdict, Van Wagner said it was clear the jurors did not believe Moore, calling him "the most unreliable witness I have ever seen in a courtroom."

"We are not just happy," Chris Van Wagner said, "We are relieved."

Related Topics:
Murder | Homicide | Trial Proceedings