By Samir Knox
Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Teen allegedly part of park shooting to face trial

 

June 1, 2023

CHEYENNE - The charges against a second Cheyenne teen who was allegedly involved in a shooting at Lincoln Park will be bound over to district court.

Julian Espinoza, 16, will face felony conspiracy and aiding and abetting first-degree murder charges in district court, Circuit Court Judge Antoinette Williams Healy ruled early Friday afternoon.

He is being held on a $250,000 cash-only bond, which Espinoza's lawyer, Marci Hoff Linde, says his family will be unable to pay. Linde asked Williams Healy to lower his bond to $100,000 in cash or surety.The judge denied the request, citing concerns about potential danger to the community.

Espinoza had a preliminary hearing Friday morning to determine whether the case against him should go to trial after an April 30 shooting in Lincoln Park led to 15-year-old BayLee Carabajal- Clark dying from a gunshot wound to her head.

According to testimony by Cheyenne Police Officer Mike Fernandez, who was the lead investigator on the case, Espinoza was allegedly driving the vehicle that passed by Lincoln Park shortly after midnight when shots were fired on the basketball court. Espinoza was with four other passengers that morning, including Johnny Munoz, 17, who law enforcement says was the person that fired the shot that killed Carabajal-Clark.

Munoz was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with the shooting last month. His case also has been bound over to district court.

At the time, Carabajal-Clark, two of her cousins, other family and friends were playing basketball on the court after attending a party, law enforcement claims.

Both parties claimed the other shot first and they were acting defensively.

During the hearing, Fernandez admitted to seizing Espinoza's phone without a warrant. Court filings indicated that officers went to South High School to question Espinoza and repeatedly tried to confiscate his phone at that point, when he didn't have any counsel or guardians present.

Officers did obtain a warrant to seize a gun from Espinoza's residence, a .380 pistol, which they say belonged to Espinoza's uncle. Fernandez said law enforcement determined that the gun was "not known" to have been used in the case.

Lindy argued that the evidence presented by the state wasn't sufficient to prove that Espinoza knowingly conspired to commit first-degree murder. She also argued that he was not sufficiently aware of any plans by the people in his vehicle to warrant a charge of aiding and abetting.

Lindy said she had "not heard any evidence to support malice or premeditation."

"Julian had gone to prom, picked up four boys ... we do not have any evidence that Julian knew anything," Lindy said.

Assistant district attorney William Edelman argued that Espinoza acted in a way consistent with aiding and abetting and conspiracy by driving to the location, slowing down at the basketball court and driving away after shots were fired.

"Most conspiracy cases are built on the fact that (two or more people) did things together in unison," Edelman said.

Judge Williams-Healy said, "The court does find probable cause to bind both counts over," despite the fact that the "evidence is very circumstantial."

Joey Carabajal Jr., the victim's cousin, was also present at the time of the shooting, Fernandez said. According to the detective, Joey Carabajal was under the impression that he was Munoz's intended target.

The state used this claim as evidence that Munoz and Espinoza conspired to kill Joey Carabajal and killed Clark-Carabajal instead.

Espinoza will be held in jail until his arraignment date, which has yet to be scheduled.

This story was published on June 3, 2023.

 
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