Crime & Courts

Woman testifies against shooting victim's wife

Kathleen Buendia was 16 when, she said, Marie Reyes confided to her that Reyes had set up her husband to be robbed.

Later that evening, Gonzalo Gomez lay dying on his front porch, shot in the chest, as Buendia said she saw four men run away.

Now 19, Buendia testified Wednesday in Reyes' murder trial. Buendia told jurors that Reyes had admitted to setting Gomez up for a "fake robbery.''

Reyes' defense, however, suggested on cross-examination that Buendia had helped three other 16-year-olds and another man plot the robbery that turned deadly.

Buendia said she lived with Reyes and her children in May 2007. The day before the shooting, Buendia testified, she saw Javier Rizo Jr. come over to Reyes' house. Rizo and Reyes are cousins.

Buendia also said she recognized Arturo Otano with Rizo that day. Buendia said she knew Otano from middle school.

On May 15, Buendia said she accompanied Reyes to Gomez's house near 31st South and Seneca.

On the way, Buendia testified, Reyes told her she had planned a "fake robbery" to steal Gomez's wallet.

"She was going to be like the victim," Buendia said under questioning from prosecutor Marc Bennett.

Buendia remembered staying in the vehicle while Reyes went into the house. Just after 10 p.m., Buendia received a call on her cell phone. It was Reyes.

"She told me to call Javier and ask if he was ready," Buendia said.

Buendia, testifying under immunity from prosecution, said she relayed the message.

"OK, thanks," Buendia remembered Javier saying.

Minutes later, she heard a commotion inside the house.

"That's when I heard the gunshot," Buendia said.

Buendia saw four men run out of the house. Then Gomez walked out of the front door and fell.

Reyes' lawyer, Mark Sevart, cross-examined Buendia about telling police different stories. She had told them she wasn't there, that she went to the house of friends. After the shooting, Buendia went to Mexico and was brought back to testify under immunity.

Bennett pointed out that Buendia didn't ask for immunity. Buendia said she had been in Mexico with family. Her grandmother lived there and had been sick, she said.

Wichita police detective Rob Chisholm testified earlier Wednesday that Gomez's wallet was recovered inside the house. It contained more than $4,000 cash.

Rizo, Otano and Tyler Holmes, all 16 at the time, pleaded guilty to felony murder as juveniles and are in a detention facility.

Anthony Llamas pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a prison sentence of nearly 29 years for firing the shot that killed Gomez.

The trial continues today before Sedgwick County District Judge David Kaufman.