It’s day three in the trial against the man charged in a high-speed chase where several shots were fired at Smith County deputies.
Juan Alberto Quiroga, 20, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant.
During testimony Thursday afternoon, Cory Cameron, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was in the lead patrol unit that took part in the chase took the stand and talked about the events that occurred on March 21, 2016.
Cameron testified that an SCSO lieutenant asked him to stay over after his shift and assist with the traffic stop with his K-9. He told the jurors that he went to the area and set up on Highway 64.
The SCSO deputy also explained that the K-9 unit is on call 24 hours a day.
Cameron said he was set up on Parker Road when he received a radio transmission that said the Nissan Altima was moving and that he needed to follow it. He and the other pursuing law enforcement officers followed it down to Food Fast, where it cut through to Thompson Lane.
The SCSO deputy said he activated his lights when they were northbound on New Harmony Road. By then, the chase had gotten to speeds of up to 100 mph, Cameron said. He added that he tried to keep a safe distance from the Nissan, so he wouldn’t be a part of it if they crashed.
Cameron then told the jurors that someone fired shots at him as they passed County Road 1150. He said the shots came from the passenger side and the back seat of the car. The deputy also said he saw some shots hit the pavement.
Thursday morning, jurors heard from the third suspect charged in the March 2016 incident. Jeremy Robinson told the court there were seven to 10 guns in the car and that Quiroga was armed with a rifle and a handgun.
Robinson also testified he was the one driving the car and that Ricardo Pineda and Quiroga fired at the deputies. Robinson said Quiroga emptied his magazine and asked for more ammunition.
During the chase, Robinson, Pineda, and Quiroga were in a black Altima. Robinson testified that he drove at speeds ranging from 80 to 100 mph.
Robinson said after they shot at and lost law enforcement, they got out of the car and walked down some 4-wheeler trails in the woods. After they found a shed to hide behind, Quiroga made calls for someone to pick them up, Robinson said. Quiroga took the guns with him and left to go get picked up by someone in a Jeep, Robinson testified.
He said he and Pineda waited on the bushes a while before Pineda left. Robinson said he then drove the car to the hotel, where he was later arrested.
During Robinson’s testimony, the district attorney showed a picture of a suspect in the car, and Robinson identified him as Quiroga.
Earlier in the day, Robinson testified that he told Quiroga to go home and Quira replied, “Hell no. I love this [expletive.]” That testimony prompted the defense attorney to ask for a mistrial on the grounds that the defense team didn’t know about the alleged statement.
After the assistant district attorney said he had just found out about it the other day, Judge Jack Skeen denied the request for a mistrial. The judge also denied a request to have the comment stricken from the record.
Later in his testimony, Robinson, who said he is a convicted felon, denied smoking meth on the day of the incident. He admitted to driving the Altima and having guns. He also told the jurors that he is just as guilty as the other people who were in the car that day. Robinson said he could hear two rifles being fired - one from the passenger seat and the other from the back seat.
The trial is now recessed until 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Authorities say at least two rounds struck the deputy’s patrol vehicle. A .233 caliber round struck the passenger side mirror and a 7.62-mm round struck the grill, passed through the radiator hose, and lodged into a metal rod underneath the steering column. That bullet was inches from the deputy’s body.
Last January, Pineda was found guilty of aggravated assault against a public servant.
Robinson is awaiting trial.