Discrepancies cited in testimony at ex-Raider's murder trial
Evangelina Flores, the widow of Maurilio Ponce who was murdered in October 2008, faced a barrage of questions from Smith’s attorney, Michael S. Evans, who asked whether Flores was telling the truth about the whereabouts and actions of her husband in the hours leading up to his death.
Smith, 44, who was a defensive end for the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders between 1991 and 1998, is charged with killing Ponce, 31. The self-employed diesel mechanic’s body was found in the early hours of Oct. 7 on a highway less than six miles from his Lancaster home. He was shot multiple times, including twice in the head in what prosecutors called an execution.
Also charged in Ponce’s slaying are Charles Eric Honest, 42, of Los Angeles and Dewann Wesley White, 33, of Bloomington. Smith and Honest are being tried simultaneously by separate juries. White is scheduled to go to trial Monday, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
But Evans, the defense attorney, suggested that Flores and her husband were struggling financially and planned to do away with the car. Their auto repair business was failing and they were facing two state income tax liens totaling almost $58,000. And they were behind on payments and way above mileage on their leased SUV, Evans said.
“You thought it would be best to get rid of this vehicle ... have someone steal it, so you wouldn’t have to make the payments and wouldn’t have to pay the mileage surcharge, correct?” Evans asked Flores, who took the stand in the Antelope Valley courtroom of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carlos A. Chung.
Flores denied the allegation.
According to prosecutors, Smith told investigators that he and Ponce were involved in smuggling stolen cargo and that Ponce had promised to give Smith $10,000 to move some goods on the night of his death. Smith called Ponce and lured him from his home before participating in his murder, prosecutors said.
Flores denied knowing that her husband was allegedly involved in transporting contraband. But defense attorneys said Flores was responsible for the family’s business accounting and was familiar with the flow of the couple’s cash.
“Were you engaged in what is termed as blind ignorance when it comes to your husband?” Evans asked Flores, to which prosecutors objected.
Testimony in the trial continues on Wednesday.
-- Ann M. Simmons in Lancaster
Photo: Anthony Smith of the Raiders in 1994. Credit: Los Angeles Times