BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s been more than a decade since 15-year-old Sharae Brown witnessed the deadly shooting of her mother, but certain details remain etched in her mind.
She testified Tuesday there were loud noises in the house and her mother, who was in the same room with Brown and her sister, opened the door and said, “Don’t do this in front of my girls.”
Brown then heard a gunshot and saw her mother fall to the side. The room was dark but there was light coming from the hall, revealing a tall, slim silhouette in the doorway.
“I couldn’t really see them, all I know is they were dark and had big eyes,” she said.
Prosecutors say that person was Tokunbo Okuwoga. They allege he killed Brown’s mother and two men in an effort to eliminate witnesses to an attempted robbery he had participated in a year earlier.
Okuwoga, 32, is charged with three counts of murder in the deadly shooting of Daina Caraveo and Felipe Bravo Jr., both 22, and Bravo’s father, Felipe Bravo Sr., 43. He faces life without parole if convicted.
Brown’s testimony came on the third day of what’s estimated will be a nine-day trial.
Brown told the court she fell asleep the night of Sept. 22, 2010, while watching a movie with her 2-year-old sister and Caraveo, her mother, in their home on Bradley Avenue. The then-5-year-old awoke to loud noises heard the raised voice of her stepfather, Bravo Jr., she said.
Bravo Jr.’s voice rapidly approached her room then there was pounding on the door, Brown said. Caraveo opened it.
While she doesn’t recall Bravo getting shot, Brown said she clearly remembers watching as her mother was shot and fell. She and her sister then hid under a blanket with their backs to a couch or bed.
She called her grandmother. The call was on speakerphone and the person in the doorway mocked her grandmother’s voice, Brown said. She said he spoke to another person in the hallway.
“There’s someone else in this room, I hear them,” Brown testified the person in the doorway said.
The other person said there was no one else in the room. The person in the doorway looked inside a little longer but never turned on the light, Brown said. He left.
Later, after her grandmother arrived and took her and her sister from the room, Brown saw the bodies of her mother and stepfather.
Bravo Sr. was found shot in another room of the house, police said.
Okuwoga, Bravo Jr. and another man, Anh Vu Bui, participated in an attempted robbery the year before the killings, prosecutor Eric Smith has said.
Bui, who was also in the house during the shooting, testified Monday that Okuwoga had been concerned either he or Bravo Jr. had been cooperating with law enforcement. Both Bui and Okuwoga had been questioned in connection with the attempted robbery.
Okuwoga appeared “shaky” and nervous when he arrived at the Bradley Avenue home the night of the killings, Bui said. He later saw a gun in Okuwoga’s hand and heard “a lot of shots” but testified he didn’t actually witness the shooting because he was too busy running. He said he hid in a closet until the gunfire ended then ran from the house.
Defense attorney Gary Turnbull has argued Bui was the shooter, not Okuwoga. Bui denied that assertion under cross-examination.
Police arrested Okuwoga in Fresno the day after the shooting as he prepared to board a bus to Los Angeles. He has been held either in jail or state hospitals since that day, having previously been found incompetent to stand trial but later being restored to competency.