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SJ trans woman to stand trial in ex's shooting

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Nori Tejero. Photo: Courtesy Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office
Nori Tejero. Photo: Courtesy Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office  

A transgender San Jose woman accused of shooting her ex-partner in a Costco parking lot has been ordered to stand trial.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Peterson ruled Friday, March 2, at a preliminary hearing that there was sufficient evidence to hold Nori Tejero on a charge of assault with a firearm, along with enhancements of using a .357 Magnum revolver and inflicting great bodily injury on the victim, whose name the Bay Area Reporter isn't publishing.

San Jose police Officer Manual Rodriguez said that when he responded to the store, at 5301 Almaden Expressway, Tejero was in custody in the back of a patrol car, and the victim was inside the store, where he worked at the time of the July 5, 2017 incident.
"She was calm," but "she would cry slightly when she was giving me certain details," said Rodriguez of Tejero, who was 44 at the time of the shooting.

Tejero, who'd ended the relationship about five months before the shooting, told Rodriguez that she'd gone to Costco to try to get some belongings back from the victim after she'd tried repeatedly to contact him and he hadn't responded.

"She was intent on confronting him to find out why he was treating her so badly," said Rodriguez. Tejero waited for her ex in the parking lot, and as he was walking out of the store, "she attempted to speak to him and he was not being nice to her."

The two started arguing, and Tejero pulled out a gun from the back of her shorts, Rodriguez testified. He said that as she put it, she initially aimed the gun "at his nuts," but she "felt sorry for him" and instead shot him in his lower leg.

The victim ran away from Tejero, who followed him for a few parking spaces but stopped and then put the gun in the truck she'd driven to the scene. (A friend of Tejero's later contacted police to report that she'd stolen the gun, San Jose police Detective Liane McMahon testified Friday.)

Rodriguez said that Tejero told him that during the last seven years of the relationship, which had gone on for 24 years, "she was being emotionally and verbally abused."

Tejero told Rodriguez that during a 2015 incident, her ex "had displayed a gun to her and told her 'If you ever leave me, I will kill you.'"

The officer also testified that Tejero had brought a gun to Costco because the victim "is known to have guns." Rodriguez said that he didn't speak with the victim that day.

San Jose police Officer Jill Ferrante testified that she did speak to Tejero's ex, who was in a chair with his leg up.

"There was blood all over that area. ... He was bleeding quite a bit," said Ferrante, who described the scene as "very, very chaotic."

She said she was only able to talk to Tejero's ex for about 15 to 20 minutes before he was taken to a hospital, but he told her he hadn't responded to Tejero because he'd been on vacation "with somebody else." She told Deputy Public Defender Steven Otero that she hadn't asked the victim, who'd been shot in his left calf, whether he'd ever threatened Tejero, abused her, or sexually assaulted her.

Bach Tran, another San Jose police officer, said that about three weeks after the shooting, Tejero's ex, who had a "no contact" order against her, reported to police that Tejero had written him "an apology letter" from jail.

Along with the assault with a deadly weapon charge, Peterson also held Tejero to answer on a misdemeanor charge of violating a protective order.

Just before the hearing got underway, Tejero rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in her doing a maximum nine years in prison.

Friday's testimony closely matched what Tejero told the B.A.R. in a jailhouse interview several days after the shooting.

During that interview, she said that she'd shot him mainly "to let him know he was not going to be the one to put a bullet in my head."

Tejero also told the paper, "He didn't beat me, but there were many instances of rape and sexual assault," and he was "very degrading" toward her. She didn't want to discuss details of the rapes, and she said she didn't tell police about them until after her arrest.

Tejero is currently in custody on $200,000 bail. Her next court date is March 12 for arraignment and a bail motion.

Several people were in court Friday to support Tejero, who used to work at San Jose's Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center.

Raj Jayadev, who's with the criminal reform advocacy group Silicon Valley De-Bug, said outside the courtroom, "We remember Nori from her community work," including her criminal justice efforts.

"When a community member is being threatened with their liberty being stripped from them" by the criminal justice system, "we feel it's important to show up and support that individual," said Jayadev.

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