El Potrero Night Club

Trial begins for woman charged with murder in Arvin nightclub

She didn’t pull the trigger or even carry a gun, but Lourdes Olvera’s use of a cellphone set in motion events that culminated in the shooting of three men in an Arvin nightclub, a prosecutor said during opening statements in Olvera’s murder trial Monday.

Olvera, 30, called her boyfriend and told him to bring a gun to El Potrero Night Club the evening of June 8, Deputy District Attorney David McKillop said. The boyfriend, Juan Vega, arrived at the club a few minutes after receiving Olvera’s last call and shot three men, killing two.

After the shooting, Olvera, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, threatened the club’s bartender and told her she’d better not talk to police, McKillop said.

The prosecutor played a number of surveillance video clips taken from inside the club. Some of the footage — which had no audio — captured the shooting, and other portions showed Olvera on her cellphone earlier in the evening after dancing and talking with the victims.

Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, Olvera’s lawyer, told the jury she is not responsible for the deaths of Jorge Zavala, 34, and Federico Moreno Jr., 37, or the wounding of Manuel Morales, who survived. He said the evidence will show Olvera, until this case, was never in trouble either in Mexico or the U.S., where she was visiting on a tourist visa at the time of the shooting.

“If she’s guilty of anything, she’s guilty of having a crappy boyfriend who might deal drugs and carries a gun, ” Cadman said.

Olvera called Vega, 32, to pick her up after one of the victims offered her money for sex, Cadman said. Olvera was uncomfortable and felt threatened sexually, the attorney said, and only wanted to get a ride home.

Cadman said there is no evidence Olvera told Vega to shoot anyone. He said she stayed at the scene following the shooting and cooperated with police, even leading them to the residence of Salvador Chavez, who Cadman said showed up with Vega to act as “muscle.”

Chavez, 36, was sentenced to time served and five years’ felony probation last week after pleading no contest to being an accessory to the crime.

Vega, charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

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