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Girlfriend's shooting recalled in San Nicolas trial

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Trial continues for the man charged with murder following an argument over burnt rice. Valene Borja died from pneumonia, according to the island's chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola. He conducted the autopsy on Borja and testified today in the trial for Clifford San Nicolas.

San Nicolas is accused of shooting his girlfriend in the neck after an argument over burnt rice while at their ranch along NCS, Dededo. The single bullet to Borja's neck left her paralyzed. Exactly a year later, she passed away.

According to Dr. Espinola, "this happened because the person was paralyzed." the paralysis was a result of the .22-caliber bullet that he extracted from the back of her neck which shattered tissue of the spinal cord. Because Borja couldn't cough and struggled to breathe on her own, she contracted pneumonia, or the infection of the lungs. Espinola testified that Borja's lungs were solid, and two times the size of an average woman when she passed away.

Also taking the stand were David Mendiola and Francine Santos. The couple and their baby were at the Dededo ranch the morning of the January 26, 2013. According to Santos, the defendant asked the victim to cook rice. She did so on the stove but complained of stomach pains prompting the argument.

Santos continues to say the couple argued often, so she didn't think much of it and continued to rest on the bed with her baby while Mendiola napped in the car parked nearby.

Both Santos and Mendiola say they couldn't make out the words being exchanged by their friends in the argument because the car stereo was too loud. In fact, both report that they didn't even hear a gunshot. The only alert that anything was wrong was the sound of San Nicolas' screams for help. According to Santos, San Nicolas was holding the victim in his arms. "He was asking for help to take out the bullet because he accidentally shot her."

Mendiola says he saw the hole in Borja's neck and told San Nicolas to get her help. San Nicolas did so, putting Borja into the car before driving to get medical attention. Before San Nicolas drove off, Santos saw the weapon, a .22-caliber rifle that San Nicolas asked him to get rid of. Mendiola hid the weapon under the mattress before taking his family away from the ranch.

As we reported on Tuesday, defense alleges San Nicolas was addicted to crystal methamphetamine and was hallucinating at the time of the shooting.

Trial will resume on Thursday.

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