Testimony ended today in Isreal Soria Jr.’s jury trial, with Soria admitting an accusation he has repeatedly denied: He owned the loaded revolver found in the back yard where he was arrested after he shot McKinleyville resident Dylan Eubanks.
Soria has steadfastly maintained he was armed only with a semiautomatic pistol loaded with 32 rounds. But under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, he finally confessed to owning the revolver containing six bullets.
“Have you ever said that until just now?” the prosecutor asked.
Soria then proceeded to insist he can’t remember where or how he got the revolver.
Soria’s main defense is intoxication. He testified to drinking enormous amounts of alcohol the day of the shooting, along with smoking marijuana and taking up to eight Xanax pills.
Soria blames the substances on what he calls a false confession, in which he told the arresting officer the Norteño gang hired him to kill Eubanks for stealing from the gang. During the trial he testified that confession was all a drug-induced lie, and he was only at Eubanks’s house to rip him off. Soria says he learned on Snapchat that Eubanks had guns and marijuana.
Today the prosecution recalled the arresting officer as a rebuttal witness. Willits police Sgt. Jordan Walstrom, a former Humboldt sheriff’s deputy, said he saw no signs of intoxication when he interviewed Soria. No red or watery eyes, no slurred speech, no slow responses, no odor of alcohol.
In fact, Soria engaged in quite a bit of strenuous physical activity that night, including jumping over fences.
The co-prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal, asked Walstrom what condition a person would be in had he consumed the amount of drugs and alcohol Soria claimed he consumed.
“I believe that person would not be moving very much, if not overdosing,” Walstrom said.
Soria testified he fired at Eubanks after first seeing him in the house with a machete, then racking a bullet into the assault rife he was holding. Soria, standing outside a window, fired 11 rounds. Eubanks was hit once in the arm.
Officers searching Eubanks’s house found no machete or assault rifle, though one unspent bullet from an assault rifle was found on a couch.
Soria’s attorney, Christina DiEdoardo, questioned him about whether he would have behaved the way he did if he had not been under the influence. Soria said he would not have opened fire on Eubanks and would not have formulated a plan to rip him off.
Also, he wouldn’t have left his backpack and his two cellphones in the car belonging to the man who drove him to Eubanks’s neighborhood.
The trial is expected to continue tomorrow with the prosecution and defense presenting closing arguments. Judge Christopher Wilson is presiding.