Testimony ended this morning in the jury trial of murder suspect Gearold Sotolongo, with jurors expected to hear closing arguments tomorrow.
The last witness in the trial was Sotolongo himself, who admitted he stabbed Roger Yale but said he had no intent to kill and was acting in self-defense after Yale accosted him outside the Hoopa Mini-mart.
Video of the February 2016 incident shows Yale sitting on a curb, then rising up and moving toward Sotolongo as he walks by.
A brief wrestling match, only partially visible on the video, ends with Sotolongo making a fast, thrusting motion toward Yale, who drops to the ground. The knife blade passed between two of Yale’s ribs and punctured the left ventricle of his heart.
Toxicology tests revealed Yale had ingested a potentially toxic amount of methamphetamine. Dr. Mark Super, who conducted Yale’s autopsy, testified the meth could have affected Yale’s behavior a lot or a little, depending on his tolerance.
Yale, 30, died in the back of an ambulance while waiting to be flown to a hospital. Sotolongo has been in jail since about a month after the stabbing. During that time he has been involved in numerous fights with other inmates. He testified he believes he has a cultural obligation to beat up certain people.
Under questioning this morning by Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees, Sotolongo said he can’t remember what he did with the clothes he was wearing during the stabbing. Nor can he remember where he slept that night.
Sotolongo and a group of his acquaintances had been drinking together all night the night before, and when the killing occurred they had been in the process of panhandling enough money to buy another bottle.
- SOTOLONGO TRIAL: Eyewitnesses Recall Fatal Stabbing at the Hoopa Mini-Mart Six Years Ago
- SOTOLONGO TRIAL: More Witnesses Identify the Accused as the Person Who Stabbed Victim in the Heart
- SOTOLONGO TRIAL: New Evidence Shows That Victim in Hoopa Stabbing Was Carrying Knife in His Pocket
- SOTOLONGO TRIAL: Defense Witnesses Say Victim Had Threatened the Accused’s Life and Beaten His Uncle Into a Coma in the Weeks Before the Stabbing
- SOTOLONGO TRIAL: Defense Presents Self-Defense Case, While Prosecution Points to the Accused’s History of Jailhouse Fights