Man, father, brother charged in Bankers Hill shooting to stand trial

Ruben Acosta Jr. accused of firing into apartment

SAN DIEGO - A 22-year-old man accused of firing into a Bankers Hill apartment after an argument, killing one man and wounding another, must stand trial on murder and other charges, along with his father and brother, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Ruben Acosta Jr. is accused in the July 24 gang-related death of 27-year-old Luis Espinoza, who was shot three times in the abdomen at a youth transitional living facility in the 100 block of West Fir Street, according to court testimony.

The defendant's father, 41-year-old Ruben Acosta Sr., and his younger brother, 18-year-old Rodney Acosta, are also charged with murder, attempted murder and shooting into an inhabited dwelling.

Judge John Einhorn ruled that enough evidence was presented at a preliminary hearing for all three defendants to stand trial. Arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 6.

San Diego police Detective Timothy Norris testified that Ruben Acosta Jr.'s girlfriend told him that Acosta got upset because a group of people in the next apartment were talking badly about him and calling him a snitch.

The girlfriend said Acosta called someone -- she believed it was his father -- and told the older Acosta that he was all alone and to "just bring that." The girlfriend assumed "that" referred to a gun, the detective testified,

About 20 minutes later, the woman said Acosta Jr. got another call and gunshots rang out.

Another witness said he saw a guy in a white shirt firing into an apartment on the second floor, Norris testified.

Witnesses saw a white SUV allegedly driven by Acosta Sr. speed off after the shooting, the detective said.

The vehicle was stopped in El Cajon about 40 minutes later and Acosta Sr. and Rodney Acosta -- who allegedly delivered the gun to his older brother -- were arrested, according to court testimony.

Ruben Acosta Jr. was arrested three weeks later in Mexico.

Defense attorneys said Acosta Jr.'s girlfriend told police that people in the victims' apartment had previously accused the defendant of being a snitch and he was in fear for his life.

Attorneys said the shooting could have been in self-defense.

But Deputy District Attorney Frank Jackson told the judge there was no evidence that there was a contract out on the defendant.

Jackson said Acosta Jr. felt disrespected, got angry, and opened fire after getting a semiautomatic weapon.

Each defendant faces life in prison if convicted, the prosecutor said.

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