Vanesa Gastellu
Christine Garcia with her daughter. Photo via NBC Los Angeles Facebook

A woman executed her former friend in Chula Vista because she believed the victim had caused her boyfriend to be fatally shot by police, a prosecutor said Wednesday, while a defense attorney argued the victim was actually shot to death by gang members who set her client up to take the fall.

Opening statements and witness testimony were heard Wednesday in the trial of Vanesa Gastellu, 31, who is charged with murder in the shooting death of 23-year-old Christina Garcia.

The victim’s body was discovered on the morning of Aug. 5, 2020 in a field near the 3100 block of Main Street.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Rhoads told jurors that Gastellu and others took Garcia to that field because they believed Garcia had “snitched” to law enforcement, leading to the shooting death of their fellow gang member and Gastellu’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, David Angulo.

Angulo, 33, was shot and killed by Chula Vista police on July 20, 2020 following a car chase in a stolen truck. Prosecutors said Angulo, who was a wanted suspect in three shootings, eventually ditched the stolen pickup and unsuccessfully tried to barge into a residence. He then pointed a gun at officers who cornered him and was shot and killed, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said.

Rhoads said that just prior to the fatal shooting, Garcia was with Angulo in an SUV, which was being tracked by police. At some point, Angulo ran from the SUV and carjacked the driver of a pickup truck, leading to the police pursuit and fatal shooting.

Rhoads said Angulo’s death devastated Gastellu, who later allegedly told a friend “I got word that Christina was with him” and “I’m going to get to the bottom of this because someone snitched on him.”

One night before Garcia’s death, she messaged her mother about threats she’d been receiving in connection with Angulo’s death. She told her mother she was going to confront the people threatening her, the prosecutor said.

Her body was found the following morning with three gunshot wounds.

Rhoads said that after the shooting, Gastellu told several others that she was the killer, including allegedly telling one person “(Angulo) was my man, so I dumped on her and I dumped her body.”

He also alleged Gastellu deleted location data on her phone and her Facebook account less than a day after the shooting.

Gastellu’s defense attorney, Christine Basic, told jurors Garcia was killed by gang members who Gastellu “thought were her friends” and those same people threatened Gastellu’s life in that field.

Basic said Garcia’s killers “left her to take the blame” and spread rumors that she was involved.

According to the attorney, a number of people who claimed Gastellu confessed to them had reasons to lie to police. Additionally, no physical evidence such as DNA could tie Gastellu to the murder, Basic said.