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Victim’s best friend testifies in El Paso murder trial, recounts fatal night

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Testimony in Moises Galvan's murder trial restarted Tuesday with the testimony of David Ortega, best friend of the victim, RJ Franco. Ortega was with Franco the night he died, January 28, 2017.

Ortega recounted the events of that night to the jury. He testified that Galvan walked up to him and Franco outside Barfly, a business on Montwood Drive in East El Paso. Ortega said Galvan seemed angry.

“You know who the f*** I am,” Ortega said he heard Galvan say over the music and din inside the bar. A 19-year-old Galvan then allegedly told Franco that he wanted to talk to him outside. The pair walked into the parking lot.

“I thought (Galvan) was going to throw a punch, but then I saw a flash,” Ortega testified. “I saw him extend his arm and saw a flash, and I heard the bang.” Ortega added that he did not see Franco reach for anything, such as a gun, inside his pocket. Galvan is arguing that he shot in self-defense.

Ortega was also shot during the incident, twice in the chest and once in the hand.

“I remember coughing up blood, dark blood. I was screaming RJ’s name. And I went unconscious,” Ortega said.

Franco was shot three times, suffered massive blood loss, and died at the scene.

Tuesday's proceedings began late after Judge Dick Alcala again warned the audience against disturbing the trial. He said he spent the morning visiting with the jurors to, "make sure they weren't influenced by anything that occurred at the end of the day Monday," he said.

Alcala didn't specify whether anything specific had occurred, or if he was visiting with the jury in light of an incident he addressed Monday, saying he was made aware that someone in the audience was recording the jury after the selection hearing Friday. The District Attorney's Office told ABC-7 that person was the defendant's mother.

Tuesday morning, after a short break during Ortega's testimony, Judge Alcala granted a defense request to question Ortega about his criminal background.

When questioned by the prosecution, Ortega admitted that, at the time of the shooting in 2017, he was on probation as part of a deferred sentence for possession of marijuana. When asked, he admitted that he had been in violation of the conditions of his probation by drinking and doing drugs with Franco, as well as being in a bar late into the night.

Ortega said when he was hospitalized, he contacted his probation officer to inform him of his involvement with a deadly shooting, and acknowledged to the PO that he was in violation of his probation. Defense attorney Greg Anderson asked what he told El Paso Police officers about his and Franco's activities before the shooting, to which Ortega repeatedly said that he did not include his drinking and drug use in the report to EPPD.

"You had a week to think about what to say about what to say to officers investigating the shooting," Anderson said. Ortega had said he was intubated several days of his 7-day stay in the hospital after being shot. "I was recovering," Ortega said.

"But you didn't tell officers about your probation violations," Anderson said. "I told my probation officer," Ortega said, adding, "I was more focused on telling them about the shooting."

Anderson focused on Ortega's and Franco's long friendship, and his relationship with Franco's family.

"Do you feel responsible for RJ Franco's death?" he asked Ortega.

"No," Ortega said.

"On the virtue of your testimony, if Moises Galvan was released, would you feel responsible?" Anderson asked. "I would feel bad there were no consequences," Ortega replied.

The judge interrupted Ortega's testimony for a lunch break.

This is Galvan's second trial. The first ended in a mistrial.

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