Trial starts for Linda's Coffee Shop riot - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Trial starts for Linda's Coffee Shop riot

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It's an aggravated assault case that linked to the death of local bodyboarder, Brian Cruz. Last October, Cruz had been out drinking with friends when he was punched in the face and knocked unconscious. Police would discover him in the backseat of a car, still unconscious, while responding to a riot at Linda's Coffee Shop. Today trial kicked off for that rioting case - Cruz's two friends to face a jury for the riot before they face another jury for manslaughter.

There's no questioning who threw the first punch. Surveillance footage shown in court today depicts defendant Jaycee White slugging victim Liberty Concepcion just outside Linda's Coffee Shop. It's what happens next that's up to the jury to decide.

Prosecutor Thomas Neuman detailed, "In the early morning hours of October 22, 2016 that these two defendants assaulted the victim Mr. Liberty Concepcion and number two, whether or not these two defendants were justified using violence Mr. Concepcion to either protect themselves or to protect another."

Jaycee White is charged with felony aggravated assault while co-defendant Alfredo Castro is charged with misdemeanor assault. According to White's attorney, Randy Cunliffe, the surveillance footage has no audio and can't show jurors what words were exchanged that led to the fight.

He said, "We believe that the evidence shows there was mutual combat. Two guys agreeing to fight in this case. I'm not saying that the evidence is going to show that Mr. White didn't do anything. But aggravated assault is attempting to cause or causing serious bodily injury."

On the stand today, Richard Ragadio testified his friends were hungry after a night out drinking. In the parking lot, they encountered Concepcion, who appeared to be looking for trouble - what Ragadio explained was a bad stare, or as locals call it, an atan baba (bad look).

Despite Ragadio's efforts to diffuse the situation and trying to make peace with Concepcion by shaking his hand, Concepcion continued to provoke his friends.

Ragadio said, "He said, 'Why? What if I did say something?'...something along those lines. So immediately I think great, now he's being aggressive. Something bad is going to happen."

When it appeared that White had won the fight, Ragadio tried to get his friends to leave. Instead, however, Concepcion would summon his friends from inside the restaurant and dozens of others came out and a riot ensued.

We should note, during a check of the scene, police discovered Brian Cruz in the backseat of a car in the parking lot, still unconscious. Cruz died days later in the hospital as a result of severe head injuries.

Tumon surveillance footage shows White punching Cruz earlier that night.

That case will be determined by another jury at a later date.

Earlier this afternoon, Judge Michael Bordallo granted defense's motion for acquittal on White's aggravated assault charge. According to defense attorney Randy Cunliffe, this was because prosecutors failed to prove the victim sustained serious bodily injury. Closing arguments will be heard at 1 p.m. tomorrow on the misdemeanor charges.

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