It was just after 4 a.m. two years ago the last time Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio walked arm-in-arm with his girlfriend, Caren Chali.
A Clark County jury saw Friday the black-and-white silent surveillance video showing them move through a tunnel toward the Luxor parking garage.
“In two minutes he’s dead. Murdered. And you’re going to watch it,” said Deputy District Attorney David Stanton.
He then flipped on a video that showed the rooftop of the Luxor parking garage at 4:08 a.m. May 7, 2007. The video showed a near panoramic view of the roof. It was dark. Vehicles were parked all around. In the top right corner, two people were seen about to enter a car.
A shock of white flashed in the upper right corner of the video.
“Boom,” Stanton said.
This is how the trial began Friday for the two men accused of building and planting a homemade bomb that killed Dorantes Antonio.
Omar Rueda-Denvers, 33, and Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, 29, could face the death penalty if they are convicted of first-degree murder charges.
Authorities say Dorantes Antonio, a 24-year-old employee at Nathan’s Famous hot dog restaurant in the Luxor food court, was targeted because he was in a relationship with Chali, Rueda-Denvers’ ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter.
During opening statements the jury also watched surveillance video of a silver Chevrolet Cobalt drive around the rooftop and park next to Dorantes Antonio’s vehicle.
Stanton told the jurors prosecutors will prove over the course of the trial that the driver was Rueda-Denvers and that the passenger, Duarte-Herrera, planted the bomb on top of Dorantes Antonio’s car.
“It was an extremely powerful bomb. It was by its design and how it was structured to detonate designed for one sole purpose and that was to kill,” Stanton said.
The bomb was inside a 24-ounce, 7-Eleven styrofoam coffee cup. It consisted of a gunpowder-filled pipe that also contained spray foam insulation, wiring, and a 9-volt battery, which acted as the power source. A magnet in the bottom of the cup held it in place.
It was victim activated, meaning that Dorantes Antonio triggered the explosion when he picked it up, Stanton said.
Stanton showed a model of what experts say the bomb looked like, an ordinary coffee cup. Inside was a pipe and the mechanisms to trigger the explosion.
Stanton went on to show jurors the gruesome results of the explosion; color photos of Dornates Antonio’s mangled and bloodied head and hand.
Later a witness, Luxor security guard Scott Casey, described the victim after the explosion. “He was laying on his side. He had a pool of blood around his head. His right hand was gone. Skin was hanging off of his knuckles. He kind of moaned and shrugged,” Casey told the jury.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Rueda-Denvers and Duarte-Herrera were at odds with each other.
Repeated pretrial motions and at least two on Friday to try the two men separately have been denied by Judge Michael Villani.
Duarte-Herrera’s attorney Charles Cano argued that Rueda-Denvers was stalking Chali and had the motive to kill Dorantes Antonio.
Rueda-Denvers’ attorney, Christopher Oram, argued to the jury that his client didn’t know what was in the coffee cup.
Oram argued to Villani, during a jury break, that his client couldn’t receive a fair trial because he’s not allowed to bring up a previous bombing at a Home Depot allegedly carried out by Duarte-Herrera. Oram argues it undercuts his client’s defense that he can’t bring out that Duarte-Herrera is an alleged “serial bomber.” There are at least four alleged bombing incidents, including the Home Depot bombing, that Villani has ruled can’t be brought up because they have no bearing on the case. He’s not been convicted in any other bombing case.
Rueda-Denvers and Duarte-Herrera, both illegal immigrants, face one count each of murder with use of a deadly weapon, attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, transportation or receipt of an explosive for unlawful purpose and two counts of possession of an explosive or incendiary device.
The trial is expected to last at least a week.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.