Marijuana pipe shielded leg during 2004 drive-by, man testifies

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The bullet tore through his jeans, ricocheted off a marijuana pipe in his pocket, and exited his jeans without hurting him.

That was the testimony Wednesday of one man who was shot during a drive-by shooting in Montclair that killed 20-year-old David Velez and injured one other man.

Wednesday was the third day of testimony at the West Valley Superior Court trial of the alleged gunman, Jose Laguna, 23, who is facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder for the June 19, 2004 shooting.

Velez and about a half-dozen other people were socializing shortly after midnight in the front driveway of a home in the 9500 block of Helena Avenue.

A black Jeep Cherokee drove by slowly and opened fire, the witness testified.

Velez was standing on the street when the Jeep passed, and he fell to the ground when the shooting started, the witness testified.

Velez then stood up and walked toward the house, but collapsed near the sidewalk and held his chest.

"He just said, 'I'm shot'," the witness recalled.

Later the witness realized a bullet had struck his leg, shattering a glass marijuana pipe in his pocket but otherwise leaving him unharmed.

The bullet that struck Velez passed through his heart and grazed part of his lung, according to testimony Wednesday from Steven Trenkle, the forensic pathologist who performed Velez's autopsy.

Police arrested Laguna two days after the shooting and found evidence in his black Jeep Cherokee that linked him to the shooting, including the murder weapon, Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd said during his opening statement last week.

Laguna faces up to 110 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.

Other people who testified Wednesday include another man present at the house during the shooting, and one of Laguna's friends.

A former San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department crime lab employee who performed gunshot-residue tests on the Jeep also testified.

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