Two prison inmates accused of planning and executing a "gang hit" smirked and chuckled their way through court hearings this week.
Now both men will be tried for murder. One may also face additional charges for his courtroom antics.Tyrese S. Smith, 22, and Miguel Flores, 19, will be arraigned next week on one count of murder, a first-degree felony, in the shotgun death of Joey Miera on Feb. 22.
Prosecutors say Smith, the leader of a gang, ordered the hit from the Utah State Prison where he is serving time on unrelated assault charges. Flores was the alleged triggerman. Prison telephone recordings forever memorialized the plot.
Both men laughed quietly and exchanged smiles this week throughout testimony in their two-day preliminary hearing. And Flores allegedly threatened his former girlfriend when she stepped from the witness stand and passed him as she left the courtroom.
"He called me a `lame b----.' He said, `It's all good.' That means he is going to get me back for testifying," the girlfriend reported to 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder.
Prosecutors are considering whether to file a witness-tampering charge against Flores for his court comments.
The woman testified that Flores walked her through the shooting in the days after it occurred. She said he described for her how he approached a house at 918 S. Navajo (1380 West), crept up to a porch and fired one blast through an open window at a body sleeping on the floor.
"He said he felt a soul releasing after he fired the first shot . . . like a spirit leaving a body, so he fired again," the girlfriend testified, to which Flores chuckled lightly.
The imprisoned leader of the gang, Smith, ordered the slaying in retaliation for the shooting of one of his "homeboys," Davin Trujillo, a few days earlier, according to charges filed in 3rd Circuit Court.
Prosecutors say he mistakenly thought Adam Archuleta, a member of a rival gang, had fired at Trujillo.
Prosecutors played a tape recording of the order by Smith to his girlfriend, Melissa Chacon, who authenticated the recording from the stand Friday and said she passed the instructions to Flores and two other gang members.
"Melissa, make sure you tell them it's gots to be done at 6 (a.m.), and it's got to be done on the inside. No other way," Smith said on the recording.
Twelve hours later, Flores and two other men then allegedly went to the house on Navajo Street, where they believed Archuleta was living. Instead, Miera, 19, was shot and killed.
Both blasts hit him in his head. Assistant medical examiner Maureen Frikke said the young man lived for a full minute before bleeding to death. "His heart was still pumping for that long," she said.
Two hours after the shooting, Smith called Chacon again from the prison. Chacon asked him if he had seen the news, court documents state.
"You didn't see nothing? You didn't see the news? He's gone," Chacon said.
"Who?" Smith replied.
"Adam. He's gone," she said.
Smith responded, "In the guts?"
"H---, no. It's what you wanted . . . to call the coroner."
Chacon cried at times from the stand as the tape was played for the judge. She closed her eyes for several minutes during questioning by prosecutor Rod Ybarra about Flores' actions, opening them only to look directly at the ceiling.
Chacon, 21; Smith, 22; Cameron Lopes, 19; and Collin Carter, 18, were subsequently charged in the death. Prosecutors have since reduced the charge against Chacon in exchange for her testimony.
Carter and Lopes, who were charged with accompanying Flores, pleaded guilty to murder. The duo, Chacon and Gustave Dutson, 19, were also charged with the related Molotov cocktail bombing of a house.
The alleged firebombing occurred five days before the shotgun slaying, and detectives believe the gang was targeting Archuleta, though he wasn't at the home. No one was injured in the attack.