Teen tells Las Vegas jury he did not intend to kill girlfriend

Updated November 5, 2018 - 6:45 pm

The 19-year-old North Las Vegas man who fatally shot his girlfriend in 2015 testified Monday that he did not mean to kill her.

Casey Sandoval, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, said he held the gun up to his girlfriend’s head as a joke. He had held the same gun up to his own head and pulled the trigger as a joke in the past, he said.

After the gun went off in the bedroom that the couple shared on Oct. 15, 2015, Sandoval testified that he called 911 and falsely told a dispatcher that his girlfriend, Ariele Azrate-Lujan, had fallen and apparently hit her head while he was in the bathroom.

“I was scared,” Sandoval said.

After the shooting, Azrate-Lujan was rushed to University Medical Center, where the 16-year-old girl died. There, doctors discovered the gunshot wound and a bullet lodged in her left temple.

“I regret it,” Sandoval said Monday. “I regret it.”

Prosecutors argued Monday that Sandoval intentionally shot Azrate-Lujan in the back of the head. They pointed to at least six different versions of events that Sandoval gave about what happened in the moments before the gun was fired.

They also pointed to a series of text messages in which Sandoval used a derogatory term to describe Azrate-Lujan. Defense attorneys countered with messages from Azrate-Lujan that used the same term to describe Sandoval, arguing that the two were playing with each other.

The murder trial continues Tuesday in Clark County District Court.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3801. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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