Tucson murder victim's girlfriend testifies about gun brought into their home

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z 2013-02-15T09:59:53Z Tucson murder victim's girlfriend testifies about gun brought into their homeKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

That Sunday started out as a good day.

Donna Carter and her boyfriend, Michael Smith, had spent the past two nights at a local casino, and their three-year relationship was at high point.

The day ended with Smith, 43, dead and an acquaintance, suspected of his murder, on the run.

Carter was the first person to testify in the first-degree murder trial of Victor "Lucky Charms" Lizardi, the acquaintance, on Wednesday.

She said when she and Smith got back to their north-side home on Aug. 14, 2011, their roommates, sisters, were there with one of their boyfriends, Lizardi.

Not knowing if Smith knew Lizardi, Carter said she introduced the two. She was puzzled when Smith gave Lizardi a nod and commented it was "all water under the bridge," but she didn't pursue it further.

She noticed her much younger roommates had stashed several bottles of liquor on top of a cabinet and although irritated, she said nothing, and spent the next couple of hours in and out of her bedroom.

Once, when she came out, Carter testified, Lizardi said he would "take out the trash," which she also thought odd, but again didn't say anything.

Carter said she later caught Lizardi showing a gun to a roommate's boyfriend, Paul Hoiland, and she demanded he leave.

"I told him, 'I don't want guns in the house; you can't have guns in my house,' " Carter told Deputy Pima County Attorney Mark Diebolt.

As Hoiland escorted Lizardi to the door, Carter testified she went into her roommates' bedroom to tell them they had to move out because of the alcohol and the gun. That's when she heard a gunshot, Carter said.

As she ran out of the room, she bumped into Lizardi coming out of the bathroom adjoining her bedroom.

She found Smith on the bed where he'd been napping, his mouth full of blood, struggling to breathe.

Lizardi was arrested three days later. His defense attorneys, Sean Bruner and Michael Rosenbluth, have suggested Hoiland is responsible for Smith's death because the two had had words in the past.

For his part, Hoiland denied Carter had objected to the gun or that there was liquor in the place, other than beer.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy is presiding over the trial.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com. On Twitter: @KimSmithStar

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Event Calendar

Today's events | Add an event

Most viewed: