SACRAMENTO - After getting assurances from the prosecutor that he wouldn't face any charges for his past criminal behavior, a former drug dealer told the story Tuesday of how an attempted ripoff at his house led to the 2007 murder of Sean Aquitania and his 7-month-old son.
"Sean was my friend," said Frederick Dallas Gill, 28, from the witness stand during the second day of the special circumstances murder trial that could send Donald Ortez-Lucero and Christopher Strong to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Gill wore an orange jail jumpsuit and is being held without bail after being taken into custody as a material witness last week at his mother's house near Ensenada, Mexico and forcibly returned to Sacramento to testify.
Gill's sister, Monique, said her family was upset that Gill was being treated as a criminal.
"He's a victim and this is making it worse," she said.
Monique Gill said her brother was unaware that he had been subpoenaed to testify and would have willingly returned to Sacramento if he had known his appearance was required.
Frederick Gill testified that he had lived at the house where the killings happened for nearly a year, but said he couldn't remember the name of the street (Country Greens Court).
Gill said he had just conducted a drug transaction at the house with a known associate on the morning of Sept. 14, 2007, exchanging hallucinogenic mushrooms for cocaine and $3,000 in cash, when two intruders approached the house along with Aquitania, who had called earlier to say he was coming with his son and apparently stumbled upon the planned robbery.
"He was with two people. I'd never seen them before," Gill testified.
One of the intruders was African American, Gill said, but wore a black hoodie with a bandana covering his face. Gill said the other man was Hispanic and made no attempt to hide his face.
Gill has been unable to positively identify either of the defendants, but the prosecution has indicated it can link them to the killings through other sources.
Ortez-Lucero is the suspected triggerman.
Gill testified that both he and Aquitania were repeatedly beaten by the two intruders, who demanded money. Gill said the African American man pointed a revolver at him while the hispanic man held a semi-automatic handgun at Aquitania's back.
Then, Gill testified, Aquitania was suddenly allowed to leave the house. "The Mexican dude let him go," he said.
A few moments later, Gill said, Aquitania returned and kicked the front door off the hinges.
"He went haywire. He went straight after the Mexican dude and started punching on him. The black dude tried to hit Sean with the butt of his gun," Gill testified.
Aquitania had apparently just discovered that his son, Sean Jr., had been shot in his car seat before Aquitania left the car to go into the house with the two intruders at his side.
Investigators believe the infant was hit by an unintentional discharge from a Glock .40 caliber handgun while his father was being pistol whipped.
Gill testified that he fled the house with his hands zip-tied before Aquitania was shot, and returned to the house to find his friend's body after getting a neighbor to cut the nylon tie.
Gill said he went out to Aquitania's car and discovered the infant with a single gunshot wound at the top of his head.
"I picked him up out of the car seat and covered his head with my hand," Gill testified. He ran down the street with the child in his arms and handed him off to a school bus driver he flagged down.
Earlier in the day a pathologist who conducted autopsies on the two victims testified that Aquitania died from two gunshot wounds to the abdomen while his son died from the single shot to the top of his head.
Monique Gill said her brother was the infant's godfather and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the killings.
She said Gill stopped selling drugs after the incident. "He stopped doing everything," she said.