- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Defense attorneys indicated yesterday that one of four MS-13 gang members on trial for the 2003 slaying of 17-year-old Brenda Paz will testify in court today.

U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said Oscar Garcia-Orellana, 31, could testify as long as his troubles with immigration authorities were excluded.

The decision opens up the possibility of cross-examination from the other three defendants: Denis Rivera, 21, Ismael J. Cisneros, 25, and Oscar A. Grande, 21.

The four defendants are charged with killing Miss Paz, who was pregnant at the time of her slaying. The suspects are members of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13 — the largest street gang in Northern Virginia.

Rivera is accused of ordering the other three defendants from his jail cell to kill Miss Paz. At the time of her slaying, Rivera was awaiting trial in the slaying of a rival gang member.

Prosecutors say the four men knew that Miss Paz was talking to police and that she was going to be a witness in Rivera’s murder trial. Witnesses had said gang leaders placed a “green light,” or murder order, on Miss Paz.

Each of the suspects faces capital murder and four other charges, and could receive the death penalty if convicted.

Miss Paz was killed July 13, 2003. Her body was found on the banks of the Shenandoah River four days later.

Yesterday, Mr. Garcia-Orellana’s mother, Natalia Garcia, and his girlfriend Elida Viera, 29, the mother of his two sons, told a jury that neither of them knew that Mr. Garcia-Orellana was involved in a gang.

Mrs. Garcia said through a Spanish interpreter that her son came from El Salvador five years after she did in 1993, and worked at several jobs, including McDonald’s and Red Lobster restaurants.

She told the jury that he lived near her apartment in Fairfax Circle and that she saw him almost every day. She said she never saw him with a knife or any other weapon, nor did she have any hint he was an MS-13 member.

“He is a very good father,” a tearful Mrs. Garcia testified.

Miss Viera, also wiping her eyes and testifying through a Spanish interpreter, said she also had no clue that Mr. Garcia-Orellana was a gang member, although she had met several other members, including Mr. Cisneros.

Under cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes reminded Miss Viera of a telephone conversation she had with Mr. Garcia-Orellana on Feb. 18, 2004. That conversation was recorded.

“I don’t remember this,” Miss Viera told the jury after Mr. Walutes read Mr. Garcia-Orellana’s telephone order to only “talk with [Cisneros], but no one else. No one else. Absolutely no one else.

“I can send them to hell. Do you understand,” Mr. Garcia-Orellana was recorded as saying on the tape.

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