The jury for Ryan Oxford’s murder trial returns to deliberate today after more than three hours of closed-door talks Tuesday at the Sebastian County Courthouse in Fort Smith.
Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh dismissed the jury about 6 p.m. Tuesday. They will return 9 a.m. today for deliberations on the fate of Oxford, one of four young men charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 14 gang shooting of Justin Lopez in a camper trailer in the 2300 block of North Ninth Street.
Closing remarks by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Houston and Oxford’s defense attorney, Jeff Atkinson of Fort Smith, were completed at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday.
The six-woman, six-man jury returned at 5 p.m. with questions for the judge related to an acquittal of Oxford on the murder charge and keeping the terroristic act charge intact.
The prosecution argued Oxford was not only the getaway driver the night of the shooting, but he also supplied the AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic weapons and ammunition to carry out the Slangaz96 gang activity against rival gang Cloutboys.
“Ryan Oxford contributed to the death of Justin Lopez,” Houston said in the closing remarks.
Oxford’s defense stressed he was not the trigger man in the shooting, and did not know the two other lead Slangaz96 gang members were going to shoot and kill Lopez, a member of the local Cloutboys gang.
“There is no evidence of conspiracy involving Ryan Oxford,” Atkinson said.
The day began with statements from Dr. Jennifer Forsyth, a medical examiner for the Arkansas State Crime Lab, on the cause of death for Lopez. Jennifer Floyd, a firearms and tool mark examiner for the crime lab, also gave detailed information on how the bullets at the shooting matched up with the AK-47 and AR-15 recovered from the defendants’ homes.
Forsyth said Lopez died from a single gunshot wound to the brain stem.
It was determined by Floyd that the larger of the fragments recovered from Lopez was fired from the AR-15 rifle, the gun used by Alberto Chavez, according to alleged accomplice Jorge Chirinos. Chirinos, 17, has a mandatory hearing today. His murder trial has been set for next month.
A previous Times Record report on Oxford’s first day of trial incorrectly stated Bryan Porras had shot the AR-15 and Chavez shot the AK-47.
In all, there were 32 discharged bullets recovered from the shooting site, with 22 going into the camper trailer, Floyd stated. Nine of the bullets were of the style used in the AK-47 and 23 were from the AR-15, she noted. Several unused bullets for the guns were also recovered from the alley next to the camper trailer.
According to Chris George of the Fort Smith Narcotic Vice Unit, the two “hybrid gangs” involved in the shooting, Slangaz96 and Cloutboys, are actually factions of the same street gang — Florencia 13, aka FX13. Bryan Porras and Alberto Chavez of Slangaz96 gang were recently sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for the Lopez shooting. Chirinos and Oxford are also members of the gang. Chirinos said Oxford was "blessed in." Oxford told investigators he has known Porras since the fourth grade.