By Yomi S. Wronge
The widow of a San Jose man who was shot in the back by a state agent during a botched pursuit insisted that the couple's marital problems -- including her late husband's alleged threat to run from police and have them shoot him -- had nothing to do with the February 2004 incident.
Jeanette Cardenas, wife of Rodolfo ``Rudy'' Cardenas, testified reluctantly for the defense Monday that Cardenas slapped her during an argument and had an outstanding domestic violence warrant when he was shot and killed by Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement agent Mike Walker.
Walker is on trial for killing Cardenas, who he mistook for a fugitive parolee. Capitalizing on statements the dead man apparently made to his estranged wife -- that if the police came for him regarding the warrant he would run to her house and force police to shoot him there -- the defense has said Cardenas had a suicide-by-cop fantasy.
Walker claims the victim, who fled from him in a car and then on foot, appeared to be luring him into an alley. Walker said Cardenas, although always running away, turned back toward him and flashed something in his waistband. Walker said he thought it was a gun and that he had no choice but to shoot first. Cardenas was shot in the back. No firearm was found on the victim.
Jeanette Cardenas was noticeably uncomfortable answering defense attorney Craig Brown's questions about her marital problems, at one point shot back ``whatever happened on the 17th has nothing to do with our business.''
After he was killed, Cardenas told San Jose investigators her husband told her about 20 times he would run from police. On the witness stand, the soft-spoken woman said she isn't sure how many times he told her that. She said that at the time of her interview with police, she was being bombarded with questions and had no idea why. She said she learned of her husband's death by watching the news -- with the couple's young son -- a day before their daughter's birthday.
Jeanette Cardenas has three children. She has filed a lawsuit against Walker, the state Department of Justice and others involved in the Feb. 17 shooting.
Testimony continues today in a San Jose courtroom.
San Jose Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/)
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