Witness testifies about drive-by shooting in Siloam Springs

BENTONVILLE — A witness testified she didn’t see who fired shots killing one woman and injuring a girl, but she recognized the car since Francisco Ochoa drove the car to her home.

Serenity Northcutt of Siloam Springs testified Thursday at Ochoa’s murder trial.

Northcutt was outside her home June 25, 2021, when Katherine Pembleton was shot in the chest and Makaila Leroy was shot in the leg and shoulder.

Pembleton, 20, died from her injuries while Leroy, 17 at the time, was treated and released from a Fayetteville hospital.

Ochoa, 19, of Gentry is charged with capital murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, terroristic act, battery and two counts of aggravated assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He’s free on $750,000 bond.

Northcutt testified she invited Ochoa on June 25, 2021, to her house and met him at his car and walked with him into her home. She said Ochoa left about 10:30 p.m. that night.

Northcutt said she and her friends were outside later and noticed a car with its headlights off pass them. She said the car turned around and was approaching with its headlights on bright.

Northcutt testified she heard five or six shots. Pembleton and Leroy were shot, she said.

“It was a black four-door car with chrome on it,” Northcutt said. “I recognized it as the car Francisco pulled up in when he visited the first time.”

Northcutt said she couldn’t see who was in the car.

She testified she did yell out her address to a group of people she was having an angry confrontation with on FaceTime.

Leroy testified Wednesday she and Karla Martinez were friends, but the friendship ended because Leroy believed Martinez had stolen her black jeans and a T-shirt. She said she was also upset because Martinez stopped speaking with her after she started dating Ochoa.

Sgt. Jed White with the Siloam Springs Police Department testified he participated in a search and found three shell casings on the floor of the driver’s side of Ochoa’s car. White also assisted in the search of Martinez’s home and found a gun hidden in the attic, he said.

Martinez, 20, of Decatur is charged as an accomplice with murder in the first degree, unlawful discharge of firearm from a vehicle, terroristic act and battery, along with hindering apprehension or prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

She is being held in lieu of $200,000 bond in the Benton County Jail. Her jury trial is scheduled to begin March 11.