BARSTOW • Prosecutors told jurors that changes in witness testimony during the last 20 years will help prove the guilt of a man charged with a 1988 Grandview murder during opening statements Tuesday at the Barstow courthouse.
David Anthony Loustaunau, 40, is accused of murdering Leroy Stracner, who was 39 when he died, during a fight at Stracner's residence on the 35200 block of Birch Road in Grandview in October of 1988.
Deputy District Attorney John Thomas said there were consistent inconsistencies in witnesses' testimony between 1988 and 2008, when the sheriff's department's cold case team reviewed the case and began a new investigation.
Tina Simmons, who testified in a recent preliminary hearing that she was in a relationship with Stracner and romantically involved with Loustaunau, was the only person in the house at the time of the killing.
Thomas told jurors that Simmons never told authorities of her romantic involvement with Loustaunau during the 1988 investigation.
Thomas told the jury that the evidence he plans on presenting during the trial will prove that Loustaunau, "is a cold-blooded killer that was laying in wait for Stracner on October 19, 1988." Thomas also said he will be asking the jury to come back with a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder with special allegations that a firearm was used in the crime.
Loustaunau's defense attorney Ron Powell kept his opening statements brief and told the jurors that his client was not guilty of murder. Powell continued that, "people who get paid to decide what cases go to court didn't find enough evidence to charge him with murder in 1988 and I believe you'll have no choice but to do the same now."
Witnesses told investigators during the 1988 investigation that Stracner pulled out a handgun and that he was shot while he and Loustaunau fought for control of it, according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department report. The District Attorney's office did not find enough evidence to file murder charges in 1988, according to the report.
Thomas picked up the .44-caliber handgun used in Stracner's killing off of a courtroom table as he described the events leading up to the shooting. Thomas said he believes the evidence will show that Loustaunau held the gun as he waited for Stracner to return from a trip to Del Taco and then shot him inside his own home, while Simmons showered in the house.
Stracner died of two gunshot wounds to his upper body at the house, according to the sheriff's report. Thomas used a slide show presentation to display autopsy photographs of Stracner's gunshot wounds. The photographs showed a gunshot wound near Stracner's collarbone and another at the top of his head. The photographs also showed what Thomas claimed was evidence, such as drag marks and bloody vacuums, that Stracner's body had been moved and cleaned.
Loustaunau faces up to 50 years to life in prison for the charges. He is currently being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on $1 million bail.
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or email@example.com