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Teen’s murder trial starts today

POSTED: October 20, 2007 5:05 a.m.

A jury will hear opening statements today in the case of a teen charged with the murder of a restaurant employee in a robbery attempt.

Chaz Gregory Stringer faces one count each of murder and felony murder, two counts of attempted armed robbery and two of aggravated assault in the June 2006 shooting death of Victor Manuel Gallegos de La Rosa, 29, of Gainesville.

Jury selection lasted all day Monday, with the final 12 jurors announced just before 5:30 p.m.

Potential jurors gathered in Judge Kathlene Gosselin’s courtroom were asked questions ranging from experience with handguns to training in forensics.

When asked how many regularly watched crime shows such as "CSI" and "Forensic Files," the majority of potential jurors raised their hands.

Authorities said Stringer, then 15, shot Gallegos de La Rosa on June 8 during an attempted robbery at Garcia’s Restaurant on Athens Street.

Stringer, who attended East Hall High School, will be tried as an adult.

The restaurant is located near a Fieldale Farms poultry plant and the Harrison Square public housing complex in southeastern Gainesville.

Police said Gallegos de La Rosa, known as "Charlie" to family and friends, and restaurant owner Israel Garcia were closing up at about 10 p.m. June 8, 2006, when Stringer came in.

Police said Stringer, a regular customer at the restaurant, had a pistol in his hand and demanded money.

At first, police said, Gallegos de La Rosa and Garcia thought the teen was playing a joke on them.

Gallegos de La Rosa died on the floor of the restaurant where he had worked since coming to America from Durango, Mexico, in the late 1990s.

According to an autopsy, the bullet pierced Gallegos de La Rosa’s hand and went into his chest, lodging in his lung.

Stringer, who lived at 1979 Garden Drive, less than a mile away from the restaurant, was arrested early the next morning.

After initially denying any involvement, Stringer confessed to the murder after he was told the business had a video camera inside, police said at the boy’s preliminary hearing last June.

Gallegos de La Rosa was buried in Durango.



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