By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
After questioning 52 jurors and dismissing several, attorneys in the second of four trials involving an alleged carjacking in January selected 12 members of the panel shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday in Seward County District Court.
Following selection and opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense, the state began its case against Bobby Stensland, 19, of Dodge City, one of four suspects arrested following an alleged incident in which a handicapped victim was forced out of his vehicle without his wheelchair and had to crawl for help.
The first witness on the stand was the victim of the incident, Hector Mata, who said on the night of Jan. 10, he had pulled his 2001 Blazer into a taco stand on South Kansas.
Shortly thereafter, Mata said two men approached his vehicle, one at his driver’s side window and one on the passenger side. He said the man on his driver’s side had a gun pointed at him, and that man told Mata to get out of the car.
After Mata informed the man on his driver’s side that he could not walk, he said the person on his passenger’s side said “Let’s go for a ride.” Mata said this person was telling him where to drive and that he “shouldn’t drive stupid and only correctly so they won’t stop us.” Mata later testified that he believed “they” to mean the police.
Mata also said the person directed him to a bare lot, where he was told to stop. He said a person opened his door and threw him out of the Blazer. That person, according to Mata, asked him where his wallet and cell phone were. Mata said the person took the truck and everything in it, including a stereo and speakers. Mata could not, however, recognize the person due to bandannas covering their face.
Prior to the alleged theft of the Blazer, Mata said he heard at least one Hispanic voice and a voice that sounded different like someone who was American.
After he was thrown from the vehicle, Mata said two people left in the Blazer with a black Suburban following. The Suburban was determined earlier to belong to the mother of co-defendant Jose Gil, 25.
Under cross examination, Stensland’s attorney, Derek Miller, revealed that the two males who approached Mata at the taco stand were both Hispanic and that neither consulted anyone else during the alleged incident. Mata did say, however, that he did hear a white man speak at the location where he was thrown out of the Blazer, but he said that man did not do anything to him.
Jurors also heard from Guillermo Delatorre, who witnessed an alleged incident prior to the carjacking. That incident took place near 11th and Kansas, where the four suspects, Stensland, Gil, Juan Garza, 26, and Matthew Perez, 27, attempted to carjack another vehicle.
Delatorre testified he was with his wife and kids when he saw a black Suburban parked behind his car. He said he also saw a man walking around the parking lot at the 11th and Kansas location. The man, he said, had a bandanna on, and he approached Delatorre.
After the approach, the witness said the man went back to the Suburban. Delatorre exited the parking lot, and he said he saw the Suburban pull out on 10th Street.
Delatorre gave police the tag number of the Suburban. When asked why he made note of the tag, he said it was unusual to see a man walking around with a bandanna on his face.
Under cross examination, Delatorre said he believed the person he saw at 11th and Kansas was Hispanic and later identified that person as Gil.
The state was scheduled to continue its case at 9 a.m. today in Seward County District Court.
Gil, Garza, Perez and Stensland were arrested between Jan. 29 and March 1 by authorities in Ford and Finney counties, according to a statement for Liberal Police Capt. Pat McClurg.
Those arrests came following the alleged Jan. 10 incident in which a handicapped victim was forced out of his vehicle without his wheelchair and had to crawl for help.
The victim’s Blazer was later recovered in Finney County.
Stensland is facing multiple charges, including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, attempted theft, burglary and criminal damage to property.
Earlier this month, Gil was found guilty on one count each of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. His sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 10, in Seward County District Court.