BEDFORD, Va. – It’s been almost five years since the brutal murder of a Lynchburg teenager made national headlines; and now after delays due to the pandemic, the trial for an accused MS-13 gang member and one of the latest remaining suspects is underway.
After five hours of jury selection, narrowing nearly 80 people down to 13 jurors, the Bedford Commonwealth’s Attorney Office made an opening statement Tuesday and called the first three witnesses in the trial against Josue Moises Coreas Ventura.
He’s charged with aggravated murder and abduction for pecuniary benefit.
Coreas Ventura is accused of being a member of the MS-13 street gang and being part of a group that killed Raymond Wood in 2017.
Bedford Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said the group tricked Wood into selling them marijuana, then drove the 17-year-old from Lynchburg to Bedford County where they strangled him, knocked him unconscious, took turns using a knife, and chopped off his right hand among a dozen other wounds.
Wood’s mother testified Tuesday saying she knew her son smoked but didn’t know he sold marijuana.
She says she knew something was wrong when Wood’s cellphone went straight to voicemail, then she later found the phone on the ground outside their home.
Prosecutors presented evidence including that phone and a pair of white Timberland boots his mother says Wood was proud of.
Nance said evidence presented over the coming days includes a knife with a nine-a-half-inch blade and surveillance video from the interrogation room, where Coreas Ventura appears to be making gang signs and celebrating his alleged actions.
The jury trial is expected to last through February 14.