OAKLAND (BCN) — Four reputed members of the North Side Oakland gang have been ordered to stand trial on three counts of murder each for a fatal shooting in Berkeley and a subsequent car chase that killed two innocent bystanders in Oakland last year.
The preliminary hearing for the four men spanned more than 10 days over the past several months and ended on Wednesday with Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta ruling that there’s sufficient evidence to have them stand trial on the charges, which could result in the death penalty.
However, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office hasn’t yet decided if it will seek the death penalty or if it will seek life in prison without parole. That decision will be made before the case goes to trial.
“I’m gratified that this case will go to trial because this was a terrible incident that involved the deaths of three people, including two completely innocent victims not associated with any criminal activity,” Prosecutor John Creighton said.
The series of events began at about 6:30 p.m. on May 16, 2009, when a Berkeley police patrol officer heard gunfire in the area of Allston Way and 10th Street.
Responding officers found 25-year-old Charles Davis of Berkeley suffering from multiple gunshot wounds nearby on Allston Way, west of San Pablo Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Creighton said he believes Davis was shot in retaliation for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Nguyen Ngo of Pinole in the 800 block of 45th Street in Oakland three weeks earlier.
He said the North Side Oakland gang had a rivalry with a Berkeley gang, and the evidence in the case indicates that the four suspects in Davis’ shooting believed that Berkeley gang members came into Oakland to shoot Ngo, who was affiliated with a subset of the North Side Oakland gang.
Creighton said his theory is that the four suspects went to Berkeley looking for Davis’ brother because they thought he was one of those responsible for Ngo’s death, but when they couldn’t find the brother, they spotted Davis and shot him instead. He said he doesn’t think Davis was in a gang.
The prosecutor said the evidence in the case indicates that after Davis was shot, the suspects fled the scene in a Cadillac at high rates of speed, going through numerous stop signs as they took a circuitous route through Berkeley and Oakland.
The Cadillac then crashed into a Mazda and a pedestrian at Aileen Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, killing both the Mazda driver, 27-year-old Todd Perea of Brentwood, and the pedestrian, 41-year-old Floyd Ross of Berkeley.
After the crash, police arrested 23-year-old Stephon Anthony of San Leandro, who they believe was driving the Cadillac, and 27-year-old Anthony Price of Oakland. Two rifles were found on the passenger side of the car, Creighton said.
However, Samuel Flowers, 22, and Rafael Campbell, 26, managed to flee on foot.
Flowers was arrested in Bal Harbour, Fla., on May 25, 2009. Creighton said witnesses have identified Flowers as the person who shot and killed Davis.
Campbell, who was profiled on “America’s Most Wanted,” was arrested in Sacramento on Nov. 17, 2009.
In June, a judge issued an injunction against 15 North Side Oakland gang members that bars them from conducting certain specified activities in a 100-block safety zone.
The Oakland City Attorney’s office originally included Anthony, Price, Campbell and Flowers in its bid for an injunction but later dropped them from the suit because they’re facing three murder charges each and aren’t expected to get out of jail anytime soon.
In addition to the murder counts, the four men are each charged with two counts of evading police causing death, gang enhancement clauses and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.
The four men are scheduled to return to court on Nov. 10 to have their trial date scheduled.
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