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Friend: Slain brothers ambushed while in their car
For the second time in about six months, Durell Cotton Jr. is on trial in York County Court, charged with murder.
This time, he is accused of gunning down brothers Angel Berrios, 21, and Abdiel "Tito" Vazquez-Soto, 19, from the passenger side of a Cadillac. He is charged with two counts each of first- and third-degree murder.
Cotton, who turns 21 later this week, is already serving a prison sentence of 59½ years to life in prison for the Oct. 15, 2013, gang-related murder of Jordan Breeland. His co-defendant, Elvin Mateo Jr., received an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Cotton avoided the automatic life sentence because he was still a juvenile when he and Mateo murdered Breeland over a gang beef.
They have shown "absolutely zero guilt" about it, chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday said.
Facing life in prison: When Berrios and Vazquez-Soto were fatally shot June 12, 2015, Cotton was an adult.
That means if he's convicted of first-degree murder for either brother, he is facing an automatic sentence of life without parole.
Sunday and defense attorney John Hamme gave jurors their opening statements Monday afternoon.
After that, Francisco Rivera took the witness stand for the prosecution. He said he'd known the brothers for about 10 years.
The night of the double slaying, he and the brothers had been hanging out, had gone to the home of the brothers' grandmother, then left and were driving in the area of Jefferson Avenue and Juniper Street when "shots rang out," Rivera testified.
Berrios pulled over after Vazquez-Soto instructed him to do so, which is when a black Cadillac pulled alongside them, Rivera said.
'I'm ... about to die': He said he recognized Cotton, who was in the passenger seat. According to Rivera, Cotton got out of the Cadillac and started firing.
Rivera testified he heard Berrios say, "I got hurt, bro — I'm about to die."
Berrios apparently hit the gas after being shot, because the car crashed into a utility pole, York City Police have said.
Rivera said the next thing he knew, "I woke up in the hospital."
Before the brothers were fatally shot, Vazquez-Soto said he had a beef with Raymond Bruno-Carrasquillo and that it was Bruno-Carrasquillo in the Cadillac, Rivera told jurors.
'Didn't want to' tell: On cross-examination, Rivera admitted he initially didn't tell police he saw Cotton firing at the brothers, "because I just didn't want to."
Bruno-Carrasquillo testified against Cotton at Cotton's preliminary hearing for the brothers' homicides, and he also testified against Cotton and Mateo during the Breeland murder trial.
He maintains Cotton opened the car door and fired repeatedly at the brothers about 10:15 p.m.
During the Breeland murder trial, Bruno-Carrasquillo was asked to describe a typical day for him, Mateo and Cotton, all of whom lived in the city's south side and hung out on Liberty Court:
"Wake up, go on Liberty Court and sell drugs, and the same thing, over and over," he testified. "Every day."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.