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Suspects stay mum in murder case Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Nov 13 2010 12:00 PM

The murder trial of two South Bay gang members who are charged with killing a young man on Paradise Valley Road is winding down in its third week, with deliberations perhaps starting next week.

The last prosecution witness, a detective, was presented Wednesday and the defense attorneys for Darren Roy Martinez, 22, and Hector Martinez, 18, told the judge their clients will not be testifying. They may present a few defense witnesses before San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O'Neill instructs the jury.

Nov. 11 is a court holiday. The jury had the day off Tuesday with the attorneys discussing jury instructions with the judge.

The pair, who are not related to each other, are accused of fatally shooting Guillermo "Willie" Esparza, 18, around 2:15 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2009. He was shot at least four times and one of the men yelled out a gang's name before the shooting. Esparza was not a gang member.

One issue the jury will have to decide is which defendant was the gunman and which defendant was the one who yelled the gang challenge. Jimmy Parker, Esparza's friend who was with him that night, couldn't identify either defendant, saying both men wore hoodies and couldn't see their faces.

Out of the presence of the jury, the judge told both defendants they had "a constitutional right not to testify" at their own trial. Both men said they understood that.

"I do not want to testify," said Darren Martinez to O'Neill. Through his attorney, Hector Martinez also said he did not want to testify.

The judge said he would instruct the jury that defendants are not required to testify and the jury should not make any assumptions based on them not taking the stand. The prosecution has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and defendants cannot be compelled to testify against themselves or others. O'Neill said jurors would be prohibited from even discussing it in deliberations.

The judge had a metal detector machine placed in front of the courtroom door. Everyone who enters the courthouse has to go through a metal detector as well.

Darren Martinez is housed without bail at the South Bay Detention Facility. Hector Martinez was 17 years old when the shooting occurred, but he is being tried as an adult. He remains in the downtown central jail without bail.

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