WENATCHEE – Criminal charges filed in a September homicide in Cashmere were dismissed Wednesday after prosecutors determined the shooting of 22-year-old Gustavo Urbina-Sotelo was in self-defense.
His fiancée called the dismissal an injustice.
“We weren’t too happy with that. They’re not doing justice for Gustavo,” said Dulce Frausto in an interview Wednesday. She added, “The way that we’re seeing it, that was premeditated murder.”
Urbina-Sotelo, a construction worker who enjoyed producing music, was allegedly shot to death Sept. 23 by Jesus Torres-Lucatero during a fight outside Cashmere Valley Bank. Torres-Lucatero told detectives that Urbina-Sotelo was hitting his younger brother with a baseball bat and that he feared for his brother.
But Frausto said she believes Urbina-Sotelo was provoked into the confrontation by the Torres-Lucatero brothers.
Nick Yedinak, attorney for Jesus Torres-Lucatero, said Thursday, “There was no premeditation whatsoever.”
“This was a situation where (Urbina-Sotelo) attacked my client’s little brother, and any reasonable person would’ve done the same thing,” Yedinak said. “Being attacked with an aluminum baseball bat is a deadly weapon.”
The day began as a normal one for the Cashmere couple, she said. They went to work and then grocery shopping. After, Urbina-Sotelo picked up his younger siblings and they all hung out together.
Frausto and Urbina-Sotelo were together for four years and have a 1-year-old daughter. Frausto also has a young son whom she said Urbina-Sotelo loved as his own.
But the evening of Urbina-Sotelo’s death, he took a call from his younger brother, who spoke of a confrontation he had with a group of people at a nearby gas station in Cashmere.
His 17-year-old brother followed the group as they drove to Urbina-Sotelo’s home on River Street. Someone from a group of people threw beer at the couple’s apartment doorstep, Frausto said. It was the latest in what she described as ongoing harassment.
“They threw beer cans at me and laughed at me, knowing Gustavo would get more mad,” Frausto said.
Urbina-Sotelo left the home in his vehicle and then he and several other cars of people converged a few blocks away at Cashmere Valley Bank on Aplets Way.
Frausto waited at home for her fiancé to return. She called his phone. No answer. When she heard ambulance sirens she ran to the bank.
“I seen him on the floor. I seen him being picked up,” Frausto said. “They wouldn’t let me see his face.”
First responders told her a few minutes later that he died.
Prosecutors, relying on witness accounts and security footage, say Urbina-Sotelo approached a car driven by Guillermo Torres-Lucatero and hit him with a baseball bat. Jesus Torres-Lucatero, a passenger in the car, fired four shots at Urbina-Sotelo, striking him at least three times.
“He didn’t deserve to die the way they killed him,” Frausto said.
In an interview after his arrest Sept. 24, Jesus Torres-Lucatero told Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Det. Ernie Sensey that he shot Urbina-Sotelo because he was scared for his brother, Guillermo Torres-Lucatero.
An affidavit of probable cause described wounds to Urbina-Sotelo’s his right forearm, upper chest and head. Frausto believes Jesus Torres-Lucatero could’ve defended his brother by wounding Urbina-Sotelo, not killing him.
Jesus Torres-Lucatero, 24, was charged in Chelan County Superior Court with second-degree murder. Guillermo Torres-Lucatero, 22, who drove him from the scene, was charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Valaas on Monday filed a motion to dismiss the charge against Jesus Torres-Lucatero.
“…the State believes that prosecution of this case is no longer in the interests of justice because the evidence shows that Jesus [Torres-Lucatero] was legally justified in using deadly force against” Urbina, Valaas wrote in the motion.
Under state law, homicide is justified in the defense of another when there is a reasonable belief that the person killed intended to cause someone great personal injury.
A similar motion was filed Wednesday to dismiss the charge against Guillermo Torres-Lucatero.
Judge Robert Jourdan on Wednesday dismissed the charges against the Torres-Lucatero brothers without prejudice. Prosecutors can refile charges if investigators develop new evidence.
Frausto is skeptical of the self-defense claim.
“I don’t understand, if they’re saying this is self-defense, why did they leave?” Frausto said. “If they had nothing to worry about, why did they leave?”
Frausto also questioned the quality of evidence collected by investigators and said security footage, shown to her by prosecutors, didn’t contain the entire shooting.
Valaas noted the video wasn’t “great,” but said it showed Urbina-Sotelo charging at a “high rate of speed” to Guillermo Torres-Lucatero’s car and showed flash from gunshots.
“There wasn’t any question that Gustavo was the one that initiated the physical confrontation,” Valaas said.
He explained the majority of the decision to dismiss cases is based on actions taken during the incident, but past history is also reviewed.
Frausto said she and Urbina-Sotelo were harassed the week of the shooting by the Torres-Lucatero brothers and others involved in the confrontation. Valaas said detectives have been unable to corroborate claims of harassment against Fausto and Urbina-Sotelo by the Torres-Lucatero brothers or other people. Yedinak echoed Valaas’ statement.
The Torres-Lucatero brothers were released Wednesday from the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.
Left to raise two children without a father or step-father, Frausto is frustrated by the legal system.
“I just want justice for my daughter,” Frausto said. Their daughter, Rutila, was 10 months old when Urbina-Sotelo was killed.
Frausto’s not sure why the Torres-Lucatero brothers and Urbina-Sotelo didn’t get along. They used to be friends, but three years ago, Urbina-Sotelo began to change his lifestyle.
“He was just trying to do better,” Frausto said. She noted the shooting was not gang-related.
In an email, Valaas said, “It is unclear if (and to what extent) gang affiliations played a role in the homicide.”
Urbina-Sotelo’s death created a hole in the lives of his family.
“None of us are OK,” Frausto said. “I lost my job after the burial of my fiancé. My kids lost their happiness. My son lost his step-dad that actually cared about him.”
She and her family plan to look for evidence that could lead prosecutors to refile charges.
“I hope my daughter, Rutila Urbina, one day takes the case of her dad, Gustavo, because he deserves justice,” Frausto said. “And my daughter is going to prove justice for her dad.”