A Saugus man was ordered Monday to stand trial for the murder of Ivan Solis, following a day-long preliminary hearing in which his co-accused testified against him.
Jaqueline Arreola, 25, of Newhall, who was initially charged with murder in the fatal Solis shooting, told a sparse courtroom Monday she saw her co-accused, Nicholas Colletta, pull out a “gray” gun and shoot Solis at Begonias Lane Park on July 11, 2017.
Arreola, who pleaded guilty two months ago to the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact, testified for prosecutors at Colletta’s preliminary hearing. Arreola also admitted that the shooting was done for the benefit of a gang.
Wearing a standard blue jumpsuit of the Los Angeles County Jail, Arreola took the witness stand in front Colletta, also in a jumpsuit beside his attorney, Jerome Bradford.
Before she was asked to recall the events of July 11, Judge Hayden Zacky confirmed with the prosecution details of the plea deal made with Arreola for her promised testimony should Colletta be held to answer for the charge of murder.
At the close of Monday’s preliminary hearing, Zacky ruled Colletta should stand trial for murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned for murder April 24.
Arreola is scheduled to be sentenced May 21.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Trainor told the judge, “The people have the right to terminate the agreement” if Arreola fails to testify at trial.
Ivan Solis was shot as the result of a confrontation between members of rival gangs, according to testimony from Arreola given Monday.
Arreola was made a member of the Brown Familia gang in summer 2015, she said.
She started dating Colletta, who’s also a Brown Familia gang member, about five or six weeks prior to the shooting, she said.
Her nickname was “Clowdy”; his was “Sicko.”
Prosecutors allege in their felony complaint that Solis had been shot for “the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with, a criminal street gang.”
Arreola was named jointly with Colletta in a felony complaint filed with Los Angeles Superior Court on Aug. 14, 2017.
Solis died of multiple gunshot wounds as the result of a homicide, Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner told The Signal last month.
Solis had been shot seven times: twice in the head, twice in the upper torso, twice in the lower torso and once in the right forearm, according to the coroner’s report.
The paths of both bullets through the victim’s head were described by the coroner as back to front and left to right.
“I think it was 4 in the morning,” Arreola told the court Monday, recalling the events of July 11, 2017. “A friend drove us to the park.”
Once at the park, Arreola and Colletta sat at a park bench talking, she told the court. Then, at one point that morning, four people entered the same park.
When Colletta saw the four visitors he “kind of pushed me aside,” Arreola said.
Colletta, she said, asked the four where they were from.
The man she later came to know as Ivan Solis said he was a Newhall Gang member.
“Is there a rivalry between Brown Familia and the Newhall (13) Gang?” Trainor asked her.
Arreola said: “Yes, because a friend of ours Steven, (aka) ‘Speedy,’ passed away.”
Trainor asked her if “Steve” was shot and killed. She said, “Yes.”
“Did you believe Newhall had something to do with that?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” she said.
Trainor asked her to describe the tone of Solis saying he was with the Newhall gang.
“He sounded proud,” she said. “He had his chest puffed up, raised his shoulders up.”
Witness to murder
“Colletta took out the gun,” she said, noting it was from the waistband of his pants.
Arreola testified she was about 10 feet away from Colletta when the shots were fired.
“Did you see the gun?” Trainor asked. She had.
“Was it the same gray gun you had seen a week prior?” She said, yes.
“He pointed the gun at him and he shot four times,” she said.
At that point, the victim, Solis, ran behind the restrooms at the park, she said.
Solis, according to Arreola, shouted: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.”
Instead, Arreola heard three more gunshots. When the shooting stopped, Colletta yelled Arreola’s name and ran towards her.
“We ran to the car,” she told court, where the same two people who drove them there remained.
Nothing was said in the car, she said.
The following day, however, Colletta talked about the shooting.
“What did he mention about Speedy?” the prosecutor asked.
“That Speedy can rest in peace,” she said.
On April 3, 2017, Steven Ryan Valenzuela-Hughes, 27, was shot and killed a block from his apartment on Bottletree Lane, near the intersection of Valle Del Oro and Dockweiler Drive.
At the time of the shooting, Det. Q. Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau told The Signal: “The victim is a documented member of Brown Familia.”
On Monday, Rodriguez confirmed for The Signal that the nickname for Valenzuela-Hughes was “Speedy.”
At the close of her testimony delivered before lunch Monday, Arreola told the court she lied to homicide detectives the first time she was interviewed about the Solis shooting.
“I was afraid,” she said. Trainor asked her why. “The (gang) rules are that they will try to kill you after. I would be green-lighted.”
“Do you mean when the green light is given then they can be killed?” Trainor asked, in an attempt to clear up the meaning of the term. “Do you mean people who cooperate with law enforcement?”
“Yes,” she answered.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt