LAKEPORT, Calif. – A former codefendant took the stand on Thursday to testify about his part in the events that led to the shooting that killed a child and wounded five others at a Clearlake home last June.
Clearlake resident Kevin Ray Stone, who turns 30 this weekend, took the stand on Thursday morning in the trial of Clearlake Oaks residents Paul William Braden, 22, and 24-year-old Orlando Joseph Lopez, charged with the death of 4-year-old Skyler Rapp and the wounding of his mother, stepfather and three others on June 18, 2011.
Stone also would be the main witness on the last day of witnesses presented by District Attorney Don Anderson, who rested his case Thursday afternoon after three months of testimony. The defense teams will begin to present their cases next week.
Stone originally was charged with several counts of murder and other serious felonies along with Braden and Lopez, who he allegedly drove to the scene of the shooting on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake.
However, last fall – after negotiations with Anderson – Stone reached a plea agreement in which he pledged to testify against Stone and Lopez in exchange for being charged with being an accessory to the murder after the fact, conspiracy to commit robbery and being a prohibited person with a firearm, all of which could see him serve a total of 10 years and four months in prison.
Stone had first taken the stand briefly on May 17, but his testimony was rescheduled after it was discovered that Anderson’s notes from meetings with Stone had not been shared with the defense attorneys – Doug Rhoades, who is defending Braden, and Stephen Carter, who is acting on behalf of Lopez.
Stone testified to having a serious methamphetamine habit at the time of the shooting, which led to him selling the drug to support his own use. “It very much controlled my life.”
He had know Braden and Lopez prior to the shootings, and had socialized with the latter, as they lived in the same Clearlake apartment complex.
On the day of the shooting, he had been at his then-girlfriend Leighann Painchaud’s apartment before working on a Chevy Blazer he owned that was broken down in the Clearlake Park area.
That night he wanted to go and get more meth to sell, so Painchaud borrowed her cousin’s minivan to drive to meet a drug contact.
He said he had been asking Lopez for weeks about someone they could rob. That night Lopez allegedly texted him to say he knew of a target for such a robbery, or a “lick,” and that he also had the “strap” – or a gun – necessary for the robbery.
Stone, who said he liked guns, said he was more interested in trying to buy the gun from Lopez.
He also explained how that, in Clearlake, “dope is like currency,” with he and many others he knew using the drug in place of money.
With his girlfriend’s cousin’s car, Stone went to pick up Lopez and another man who had a rag across the bottom half of his face. That second man later would identify himself as “Paul” to Stone, who realized it was Braden.
Braden allegedly was holding a sawed off shotgun with a pistol grip, and Lopez had a similar gun, said Stone, who testified to driving back to Painchaud’s apartment, where he picked up a .22 rifle.
The three then left, with Stone taking the back ways toward Clearlake Park. Stone said Braden was telling him to drive better. “I remember it kind of struck me as odd.”
Braden also allegedly told Stone that he was wanted for murder.
Braden and Lopez directed Stone to drive to the home of Curtis Eeds, who he knew. “We were acquaintances at first and then I ripped him off,” said Stone, recounting how he substituted fake drugs during a $150 drug sale to a male subject at Eeds’ home a few weeks before the shooting.
Eeds was alleged to be a Norteno gang member while Stone said he was a Sureno.
At the shooting scene
Stone parked around the corner from Eeds’ home and he said he and the two other men made their way, single-file, through Eeds’ backyard, crouching down along the fence. Stone said he believed they were going to rob Eeds.
Stone said he could hear people talking and laughing.
“We were right here, along the fence, and that's where I heard the first boom,” said Stone.
Stone said he saw Braden, who was “right on the fence,” shooting the shotgun. “He was just pumping off rounds.”
According to Stone, he heard a total of about five to six shots, and said he thought Braden was shooting over the fence.
Lopez, at the same time, was stopped in his tracks, looking up at Braden, with his gun partially raised. Stone said he never saw Lopez shoot the gun.
Stone said he turned and ran, with Lopez coming right after him. Braden caught up with them at the car a few moments later.
They went speeding away from the scene. “I was freaking out so I just floored it. I didn't turn on the lights or anything,” said Stone, adding that he was yelling at Braden, who was sitting calmly in the backseat.
Stone crashed the vehicle nearby, and the three jumped out and began running. They threw their guns into some bushes near a home on Woodland Drive. Stone also threw the vehicle’s keys there. He then ran a different direction from Stone and Braden, and ended up staying the night at an acquaintance’s.
Stone said he never fired his gun, although he said it went off accidentally during the drive to the scene.
One of the reasons Stone said he was testifying was because he was being blamed for the murder, and he wanted to get the truth out.
“A 4-year-old kid got shot. I don't care who you are, that's not acceptable,” Stone said.
The day after the shooting, which was Father’s Day, Stone went to the home of the mother of his children. She said she had received a text warning that people were coming to kill him. Stone said she subsequently gave him a ride to Santa Rosa, where he stayed with friends.
Four days after the shooting, Stone spoke with Clearlake Police Officer Michael Ray, who tried to convince Stone to turn himself in. Stone initially agreed to meet Ray at the downtown mall, but didn’t show up because of another officer who was coming with Ray.
Stone would later be arrested by Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies along with Painchaud, who had brought a neighbor’s vehicle with her to Santa Rosa. That vehicle was reported stolen after Painchaud didn’t return it.
Anderson would have Stone identify the .22 rifle he admitted to carrying that night, which was strapped into a long, white evidence box.
Also on Thursday, Clearlake Police Det. Tom Clements was recalled to the stand to testify to statements Stone had made to him during interviews last year.
Stone told Clements that he didn’t know if Lopez had shot his gun, and he also told Clements where the guns were deposited. Clements and another officer would go to look for them.
Officer Andrew Jones also was recalled to the stand, testifying to finding Stone’s .22 rifle shortly after 9 p.m. on the night of July 4, 2011, in the 14000 block of Woodland Drive.
Jones was the last witness Anderson called before resting his case.
Court is set to resume on Wednesday, June 6.
Email Elizabeth Larson at email@example.com .