BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Five years after the crime, a Kern County woman has said it was her live-in boyfriend who shot her. Justin English was just arrested in connection with the July 2007 shooting.
The incident left his girlfriend permanently injured and took the life of their unborn child.
English maintains he did not shoot Paulina Reyes. He was arrested last week after Kern County detectives said they developed additional information and reopened the case.
Investigation reports for the case obtained by Eyewitness News show Reyes was questioned by officers this April. At that time, Reyes told the investigators she had never told them everything about the shooting, but she did remember all of it.
"She said she remembered the entire incident but didn't want to tell the truth earlier because she was scared of Justin English and was afraid for her family," the officer's report reads. "Reyes said English had made threats that he knew where her family lived."
Reyes and English had lived together in a motel on South Union Avenue, and that's where Reyes was found injured on the evening of July 1, 2007. In the interview this year, she told investigators that morning the couple argued over whether to go to his parent's house or to a party.
But, Reyes said she ironed a shirt for English, gave it to him, and hugged him.
"When she did this, she felt what she thought was a gun in his waistband, Reyes backed up and a saw the gun fall down English's pants," the investigator reported. Reyes apparently told English she didn't want a gun in the house, worried it could go off. She then turned away from him for a minute.
"Reyes turned back around and saw English holding the gun with one hand, extended and pointing towards her," the report continues. "English had a blank look on his face and didn't say anything. Reyes saw a flash and heard the gun go off. She immediately fell to the ground."
The officers said Reyes reported she saw English take their toddler son off the couch and run out of the house. She told officers she thought she blacked out for about 20 minutes and then saw her boyfriend return with the child. She later learned she'd been left alone for six hours.
In a jail interview on Monday, English told Eyewitness News he had left the motel for the entire day, taking the toddler with him. English said he came back in the evening and discovered his girlfriend on the floor, surrounded by blood.
"I grabbed the phone and called the police, or the ambulance," English said. He said he did not shoot Reyes, and he said that's what she had originally told the officers.
English said he can't understand why he's being blamed.
"Her family gathered up, and huddled around her, and traumatized her, or whatever," English said. "She wants to say it's me, now."
The current case includes interviews officers did at the time of the shooting. One officer's report covers his interaction with the couple's 3-year-old son. The investigator asked the child if his daddy had a gun that day, and the boy said, "Yeah."
The little boy then reportedly told the officer, "Daddy shoot gun," he told the officer his father shot the gun in the house, and that made his mommy cry.
English told Eyewitness News he was handcuffed by deputies after he reported finding his girlfriend the night of the shooting. He was then questioned and released. English said he was questioned again a couple years ago, but nothing more was done.
Eyewitness News asked English if he had a gun, or access to a gun at the time Reyes was shot. He said "No" to both questions.
In the April interview with Reyes, officers apparently asked her whether English owned any guns, and she said no. She told investigators she'd heard he got a gun from the brother of a friend and also returned it to him.
Reyes also told officers she heard from an acquaintance who was with the friend. That man allegedly got a call the day of the shooting. The man was told English just got done shooting Reyes, and went back to his father's house and started drinking, waiting for deputies to look for him there.
Back in 2007, Reyes told officers her memory of the shooting was "vague," according to the case reports. But, she also told investigators she had a dream that English had shot her. The next month, officers met with Reyes and had her call English to talk about the incident.
"Reyes told English, 'I remember what happened,'" the report reads. "Justin English told Reyes, 'You don't remember nothing.'"
Reyes again reportedly told English she remembered what happened, but she hadn't told officers or anyone else. "English told Reyes, 'You shouldn't tell nobody,"' the report states.
Investigators said Reyes was left paralyzed from the waist down due to the shooting. Some of her relatives were at Monday's court hearing for English, but none wanted to make any comments.
English said he didn't shoot Reyes, and investigators should be looking for the real suspect.
"All the evidence leads back to me, and there's nobody else, and that's why I'm here -- pretty much," English told Eyewitness News on Monday. "And that's what I told (investigators), do you job. Do your job and find the person."
English faces a charge of murder related to the death of the unborn baby, and attempted murder for shooting Reyes. His bail was set at $1.5 million, and he's set to be back in court next week.