Witness: Navarro 'said he scared two guys'

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com

The two weren't close friends, Brittany Perez testified Wednesday in 35th District Court, but she and Matthew Navarro go all the way back to the fifth grade, when they were photographed together as students of the month.

Perez was one of four state's witnesses who testified Wednesday in Navarro's capital murder trial. Navarro, 24, is charged in the December 2009 shooting death of Ronald Philen in Brownwood.

Perez said said she and Navarro ended up as co-workers at Taco Bueno after the murder. They weren't friends outside of work, although they did have conversations and Navarro told her about going to "hit a lick."

Perez didn't know what that meant and learned it referred to taking something that belongs to someone else. "He said he scared two guys … and told them to get down," Perez testified.

The state contends that Navarro and three other young men — Pedro Rocha, Efrain Castillo III and Alex Gil Jr. — drove to the Ninth Street home that Ronald Philen shared with his brother, Randall, in the dead of night, kicked their way in and attempted to steal a large amount of marijuana they believed was in the home.

The men terrorized Randall Philen and held him at gunpoint, and shots were fired that struck and killed Ronald, according to testimony.

Perez said she and Navarro went someplace outside of work together only once, and that was to Sonic to order lunch during a break at work. At Sonic, Perez testified, another male approached Navarro and asked him "have the cops come by to see you?"

"Chill out," Navarro replied, according to Perez's testimony.

Perez said she Brownwood officer Bruce Spruill asked her to come in to the police department and provide some information. Spruill told her the information was related to the Philen murder, and she was surprised as she had no idea she had any information about that event.

One of Navarro's cellmates in the Brown County Jail testified that Navarro talked about being in the wrong place at the wrong time but insisted he did not shoot Philen.