Witness testifies at alleged gang murder trial, admits being ‘scared’

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A Newhall woman who confessed to being a member of a gang testified at the murder trial of her ex-boyfriend Friday that, despite being scared for her life, she’s telling prosecutors the truth about what happened the day a rival gang member was shot and killed.

Jaqueline Arreola, 25, took the witness stand at San Fernando Superior Court Friday as prosecutors continued with their case against Nicholas Colletta, 21, who’s charged with murder in last year’s shooting death of Ivan Solis.

Arreola, who was initially charged with murder in the same shooting, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact, agreeing to work with prosecutors and testify against Colletta.

Arreola and Colletta, who according to testimony already given were members of the Brown Familia gang, were also boyfriend and girlfriend at the beginning of last year.

Colletta, with a shaved head, wearing a black suit jacket over a white shirt, sat without shifting at a table with his attorney, about a car-length away from the woman testifying against him.

Deputy District Attorney Adan Montalban asked Arreola, with her experience as a gang member, if she understood the term “snitching.”

Showing no facial expression, she answered: “To tell on somebody.”

Montalban then asked her how snitching turns out for people who do that.

“Bad,” she told him and the jurors.

“What can happen?” Montalban asked her.

“You get killed,” Arreola said.

As the prosecutor pressed the point about her testifying against Colletta, she told him: “I don’t want to go to jail for something I didn’t do.”

“Are you scared?” he asked her.

“Yeah,” she said in a faint, but steady voice.

Are you scared something will happen to you?

“Yes,” she said, a little louder and firmer.

Montalban suggested to Arreola several times that her “only obligation was to tell the truth” and each time Arreola agreed with him.

Prosecutors referred several times to printed transcripts of the testimony she gave during Colletta’s preliminary hearing in April.

At that hearing, she testified she saw Colletta “pull out a gray gun and shoot Solis” at Begonias Lane Park on July 11, 2017.

At one point early in her testimony Friday, Arreola said. “I regret being there that day,” referring to the Begonias Lane Park.

Also called to the witness stand Friday were two sworn officers of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

A deputy called to the stand said she recovered five .40-caliber shell casings in the course of the investigation.

Detective Mark Barretto, a 19-year veteran with the SCV Sheriff’s Station who was also called to testify, described his extensive experience having dealt with and having arrested gang members in the Santa Clarita Valley

Montalban asked him how many people were members of gangs in the Santa Clarita Valley, and Barretto told him between 45 and 50, including those incarcerated.

Asked if Brown Familia and Newhall 13 were rival SCV gangs, he said: “Bitter rivals.”

The trial is expected to continue next week.

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