"We just went looking for anyone to kill just for the fun of it," said a key witness this week in court about what the alleged triggerman told him about the 2011 murder of Jordan Hickey near National City.
The 18-year-old witness was the first to testify Monday in the preliminary hearing of Humberto Emanuel Galvez, 19, and his cousin, Juan Ignacio Gomez, 21, who are charged with killing Hickey, 21, who was shot to death on April 29, 2011.
Prosecutors, citing safety concerns, asked that the witness’s name not be published.
Hickey was pushing his bicycle up a steep hill at 12:35 a.m. in the 2800 block of Grove Street in Lincoln Acres — an unincorporated area of National City — when he was shot three times. He was on his way home at the time.
The witness secretly wore a tape recording device and told Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Francis Devaney he spoke with both Galvez and Gomez on separate occasions.
Some excerpts of the tapes were played in the courtroom where all seats were filled with family members of both Hickey and the defendants.
The hearing went into its third day on Thursday and it is expected the judge will rule whether the suspects should stand trial for murder, conspiracy, and allegations they killed the victim as part of a criminal street gang.
Both men pleaded not guilty Monday after Deputy District Attorney David Grapilon filed special circumstance charges that allege they killed the victim in a drive by shooting and it was gang related. If they are convicted of first-degree murder, both face a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Both men lived with relatives in a Logan Avenue house until their arrests on March 22.
The witness testified both men showed up at his home the night of the murder, but he refused to let them inside.
The next day, Galvez asked the witness about any TV news coverage of the shooting and the witness testified Galvez told him he was the triggerman.
As the witness spoke, Galvez apparently smiled, causing a loud reaction by the victim’s mother, Jeannine Hickey, who stood up in the audience and loudly said, “You want to laugh about killing my son?”
Hickey uttered expletives to Galvez and deputies escorted her from the courtroom. About an hour later, she returned and apologized to the judge, saying she wanted to hear the testimony and would remain quiet.
The witness told the judge he and another man were charged with robbery, auto theft and reckless evading from police on Dec. 13. He told his attorney he had information about a murder case. The witness said he signed a deal with the prosecution “to help them out” and he was released from jail on Feb. 23.
He agreed to secretly wear a wire and talked about the homicide with both men on different days. The witness said it was Galvez who admitted to firing a shotgun at Hickey while Gomez drove. It was Galvez who gave the quote “we just went looking for anyone to kill just for the fun of it,” he said.
“Did Mr. Gomez appear to be sorry?” asked Grapilon.
“No, not at any one time did I hear the word sorry,” replied the witness.
“Was that the same type of attitude that Mr. Galvez had when you talked to him two days before?” asked Grapilon.
“Yep,” replied the witness.
After both men were arrested, two sheriff’s detectives played them excerpts of the tape. After hearing it, both men admitted their roles, and one of them even wrote a letter of apology to the victim’s mother, according to the detectives.
“For all the opportunity he had to say ‘I’m sorry for killing Jordan Hickey,’ the letter did not say that,” said detective Leslee Hall. “It basically said I’m sorry what this has done to me.”
Det. Susanne Fiske said Gomez was concerned about getting into protective custody in jail because it was a gang taboo to commit drive-by shootings because you can get away quickly with a vehicle. In gang culture, confrontations or shootings should take place with the person’s feet on the ground, she said.
Both Galvez and Gomez remain in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $2 million bail.