SPOKANE -- Jose Barajas was living in Bingen in 1987 when he got word that his younger brother "had an accident" in Pasco.
Only after making the more than 2 1/2-hour trip east did a relative tell him what had really happened -- Misael Barajas and five other young men had been lined up and shot inside a body shop garage.
The 22-year-old brother had lived in Pasco less than a month. Doctors were unable to resuscitate him at a nearby hospital.
On Friday, Jose Barajas told jurors at the trial of Vicente Ruiz that he was the one who identified his brother at a Pasco funeral home.
He and the brother of another shooting victim testified Friday, as attorneys made their way through a confusing series of questions apparently aimed at establishing how the victims and accused knew each other, and how certain witnesses were of the identifications they made.
Ruiz, 46, is accused of helping kill five people and wound another inside Medina's Body Shop on Oct. 13, 1987. He is on trial for five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder.
The Franklin County Superior Court case was moved to Spokane because of extensive media coverage of the first two trials, both of which ended in mistrials.
This trial started Nov. 9 with jury selection. Jurors have listened to 11 days of testimony so far; prosecutors are set to present more witnesses Monday.
Ruiz and his lawyers claim it is a case of mistaken identity and have suggested the shooter might have been a similar-looking relative of Ruiz's.
The lone survivor of the crime identified Ruiz, along with his cousin, Pedro Mendez-Reyna. Mendez-Reyna was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for his role in the shootings after agreeing to testify against Ruiz.
He refused to testify Thursday about that night and only said, "I plead the Fifth."
Aldo Montes, who was hit in the stomach by a ricocheting bullet, was being treated in the hospital when he picked Ruiz's picture out of a photo montage as one of the two shooters. He had driven to the Pasco Police Department after the shootings, then was taken by ambulance to what now is Lourdes Medical Center.
Police and paramedics then responded to the body shop around 7 p.m. to find the victims.
In addition to Misael Barajas, killed were: Juan Antonio Lopez Garcia, 20; Eliceo Guzman Lamas, 20; and Rafael Parra Magallon, 22, all of Pasco; and Francisco Venegas Cortez, 21, of Kennewick.
Barajas and Lopez Garcia were from the same village in the Mexican state of Zacatecas and likely had known each other since childhood, Jose Barajas said. He testified that after his brother's death he met the people Misael had been living with, including Montes, who also was known as Rocio.
He said Montes came from a town in Mexico that was "about five hours on foot" from their own village, Jose Barajas said.
Like Barajas, Alfonso Lopez had to travel to Pasco 23 years ago after finding out "that my brother had been murdered."
Alfonso Lopez said he had moved from Pasco to Brewster a month before, but made the drive with his father to identify his brother Juan Antonio Lopez Garcia's body in the funeral home and make arrangements.
Lopez was joined in court Friday by his father and two sisters but was the only family member to take the stand.
Lopez testified that when he lived in Pasco with his older brother, they had hung out with the same people, including Misael Barajas. He said he did not know Montes.
Asked if he had known Ruiz or Mendez-Reyna, Lopez said through an interpreter, "I had seen them, only seen them from far away, never spoken with them."
He said he had known the two men by a Spanish nickname but didn't know other family members also were referred to by it.
Defense lawyer Kevin Holt showed Lopez a series of old pictures from Pasco police files to see if he could identify Ruiz and Mendez-Reyna.
One picture was a booking mug of Ruiz from 1983 and Lopez responded, "I don't know who that could be." He said he wasn't sure but thought Ruiz -- who he knew as Vicente Mendez -- was in a different picture, and selected two others as possibly Mendez-Reyna.
Lopez said the last time he saw those men was in January 1987 at a dance, and he remembers Mendez-Reyna being thinner than Ruiz.
Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn asked Lopez how certain he was of his identifications in court Friday. "As I said, I'm not very sure. I'm not entirely sure. As I said, too many years ago," Lopez said.
When Pasco Detective Scott Warren was on the stand, defense lawyer Peter Connick asked him to look at each of the pictures and name the people. He confirmed that the photographed copy of a picture that Lopez could not identify was of Ruiz.
Warren -- who was a teen when the slayings occurred and is the fourth detective assigned to the case -- said he didn't recognize the other men, but matched the pictures to a photo montage and booking mugs in evidence.
Two of the pictures, which Lopez had said were of Mendez-Reyna and Ruiz, were really Ruiz's two brothers.