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Prosecutor: Taxi driver begged for mercy before shooting
Trial begins for woman accused of slaying legal immigrant in 2014
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Nicole Bailes, Hall County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman deputy, identifies the defendant during the murder trial for Isaias Tovar-Murillo, a taxi driver for El Palmar, at the Hall County Superior Court on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Tovar-Murillo’s body was found March 16 in the woods near Barrett and Dorsey Peek roads in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Isaias Tovar-Murillo begged for mercy from the woman riding in his cab before the gun fired, Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva said in opening statements Tuesday afternoon.

The trial for Misty Sunshine Moran, 39, of Gainesville, began around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Superior Court Judge Jason Deal’s courtroom.

Sachdeva opened his speech to the jury with a summation of Tovar-Murillo’s life, a 46-year-old man who legally immigrated into the United States from Mexico and toiled for long hours as one of the hardest working taxi drivers at Taxi El Palmar.

Tovar-Murillo allegedly picked up Moran for a fare on the night of March 15.

“Little did he know that the person that night who entered his cab would do such an evil act,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva told the jury in the overview of the case that Moran allegedly placed a gun to the back of Tovar-Murillo’s head. The driver begged for his life, Sachdeva said, and attempted to roll out of the car after driving into a grassy area near Barrett and Dorsey Peek roads.

“As soon as he opens the door to try to escape, she shoots him because she wasn’t going to let him escape,” Sachdeva said.

Tovar-Murillo fell out of the open door while his taxi rolled into the backyard of a Barrett Road home, Sachdeva said.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joy Mayfield responded to the 911 call before 5 a.m. March 16 from the homeowners, following the car’s tracks back roughly 100 yards to the taxi driver’s body.

Joanna Gonzalez took the stand following Mayfield, testifying that Moran allegedly told her the story of Tovar-Murillo’s death.

“I thought they were playing a joke on me,” Joanna Gonzalez said, saying she’s known Moran for 17 years.

C. David Turk III, Moran’s attorney, cross-examined Joanna Gonzalez and claimed the woman was hurrying Moran to pay her back some money. Joanna Gonzalez denied the claim.

Three of the four co-defendants with Moran pleaded guilty in August to attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and violation of the Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act.

Nicholas Allen Gonzalez, 24, Justin John Adams, 22, and Ignacio Mondragon, 21, all of Gainesville, took the plea deal and were not prosecuted for felony murder as charged in the indictment. Adams and Mondragon received 30-year sentences and will spend 15 years of that in prison, while Gonzalez was given a 25-year sentence and is expected to be in jail for 13 years.

Moran’s fourth co-defendant, Margarita Leanos, had jury selection in her case Monday and is expected to be heard in Deal’s courtroom after Moran’s trial.

Turk III said Nicholas Gonzalez, Adams and Mondragon took “a chance to save themselves,” as the three are expected to testify in Moran’s case.