Trial Begins for Man Charged with Violent Attempted Robbery in Costa Mesa

Empty American Style Courtroom. Supreme Court of Law and Justice Trial Stand. Courthouse Before Civil Case Hearing Starts. Grand Wooden Interior with Judge's Bench, Defendant's and Plaintiff's Tables.

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SANTA ANA (CNS) - A man testified Thursday he went over to a motel in Costa Mesa about a year ago to give a friend a tattoo and maybe sleep with her, but ended up shot in the stomach in a failed robbery, dialing 911, thinking he would die as he blacked out.

Victim John Lambert was the first witness in the trial of Kenny Alfredo Poncio, 42, of Corona, who is charged with one count of attempted robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and single counts of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a firearm with a prior conviction for the same charge, all felonies. He also faces sentencing enhancements for attempted premeditated murder, discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, and inflicting great bodily injury on the victim.

Lambert was shot Jan. 23, 2022, at the Motel 6, 1717 E. Dyer Road, Deputy District Attorney Gagan Batth told jurors. Lambert and a woman who were at a 7-Eleven store across the street agreed to meet in her motel room, Batth said.

Another man, Jose Del Muro, arrived a short time later and said he was "there to sell drugs" to the woman, Kianna, Batth said.

Lambert testified that he had met Kianna a few times before that night, and they had discussed him doing some "tattoo work" on her. She invited him over to the motel room, so he drove his car across the street and she walked back, he testified.

Lambert testified the plan was to give her a ride somewhere later, but he was also hoping to have sex with her. She wanted to take a shower first, he said.

"She had me sit down at the table in the room," he testified. " I was there four or five minutes before someone  knocked."

Lambert traded drugs with Del Muro, he testified.

"He had methamphetamine and I had Fentanyl," he testified.

They each did one dose and then he heard a hushed conversation between Kianna and Poncio, Lambert testified. He said it made him nervous "because of the way it sounded, like they didn't want me to hear what they were saying."

Then Poncio came from around the corner with a gun, he testified.

"It was a semi-automatic, black," he said. "He was pointing it at me. He said, `What the (expletive) are you doing in my room?"

Lambert nodded at Kianna and said, "She invited me."

Poncio told Lambert and Del Muro to go over to the bed, sit down and "empty your pockets," Lambert testified.

Lambert crouched down as if to sit down, but then had second thoughts.

"Instinct told me not to give him anything," Lambert said.

Lambert said he had a gold necklace, an iPhone, money and a briefcase carrying his computer on him at the time.

"I said, `Who the (expletive) do you think you are pointing that (expletive) at me,' and he shot me," Lambert testified.

Batth showed jurors surveillance video of Del Muro dashing down the motel hall, followed by the woman and Poncio, who hopped on a bike. Lambert stumbled out last and said he fell down, crawling, shouting for help.

"I left the room, called 911. I had the phone in my hand," Lambert testified. "People opened the door and looked out of their rooms, but no one helped me."

When Batth asked him if he feared for his life, Lambert testified, "As I was nearing the end of the hallway and losing consciousness I remember thinking to myself, I pictured all of my family. I thought I was going to die."

Lambert said the next thing he remembered was finally regaining consciousness at OC Global Medical Center in Santa Ana.

"It was a while before I regained consciousness," he testified. "I still don't know to this day how long I was unconscious."

It may have been a week or two, he testified.

He sustained gunshot wounds to his arm, chest and stomach, and he also suffered kidney damage, Batth said.

Poncio's attorney, Roger Sheaks, reserved an opening statement for later during the trial.

Poncio is also awaiting trial for another attempted robbery and assault with a semiautomatic firearm on Feb. 15, 2021, according to court records.

Poncio pleaded guilty to felony grand theft and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia and burglary tools in September 2019. He pleaded guilty to armed robbery in August of 1999 as well, according to court records.

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