Mom had to beg son to stay with her, she testifies in murder case
By Joe Gorman
Cristina Olivera testified Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that when her son lay bleeding from nine gunshot wounds last February in an East Side street, it wasn’t the blood so much she was concentrating on but his eyes.
“I had to look my son in the eye, beg him to stay with me,” she said during her testimony before visiting Judge H.F. Inderlied Jr. “That one eye was twitching almost like he was a little kid saying, ‘mommy, I need you.’”
Olivera was testifying in the trial of the two people accused of killing her 20-year-old son, Jason Fonseca. On trial are Angel Bell, 20 and Kimani Hodges, also 20.
Hodges faces charges of aggravated murder with a firearm specification, and Bell faces a charge of complicity. Opening statements and testimony began after a jury was chosen to hear the case Tuesday.
Olivera said she was returning to her Ayers Street home after going to the store when she noticed a commotion in the street and several people flagging her down. She then saw her son in the road in front of their house.
“I don’t know if he was bleeding,” Olivera said. “I was just focused on his eyes.”
In her opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Mary Beth DiGravio told jurors that Fonseca had once dated Bell and he had also gotten a car with her. He said when Bell wrecked the car, he tried to take it back, and Bell was very angry and threatened him. DiGravio said Hodges went to Fonseca’s house at Bell’s behest and shot him nine times in the street in front of witnesses.
“The basis for this murder is over two things: A car and a girl,” DiGravio said.
DiGravio said Bell egged Hodges on to kill Fonseca, which is why she is being charged with complicity; and that witnesses said when Hodges drove away, there was a second person in his car.
Hodges’ lawyer, Tony Meranto, began his opening statement by slamming a book on the defense table then shouting: “I hate you, I’ll kill you!” He said his point was that even though harsh words may have been spoken, they do not prove his client killed Fonseca.
“Words don’t kill,” Meranto said.
Meranto said the angles of the nine bullet wounds show that his client was struggling with Fonseca before Fonseca was killed and that Fonseca charged out of the house at his client.
David Betras, the attorney for Bell, said there is no evidence his client was ever at the murder scene and that witnesses at the scene only said there was a second person in the car with Hodges, but no one could identify who that person was.
Betras said his client was seeing Fonseca and Hodges at the same time and the shooting was part of a “love triangle.” He said the fact Fonseca was shot nine times proves there was rage involved and that makes sense if they were both fighting over Bell.
“You don’t shoot someone nine times over a stupid car,” Betras said.
Jurors also heard the 911 tapes of the shooting and heard testimony from the first two police officers to arrive on the scene, Pete Bonilla and Darrick Ball.