NOVATO (CBS SF) — One of five defendants charged with the 2008 murder of Novato businessman Tong Van Le pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter, and an attorney for one of the other defendants said the plea prompted a decision to delay the start of the trial.
Sean Demetrius Washington, 25, agreed to a five-year prison sentence and will testify against his co-defendants. He also pleaded guilty to use of a weapon.
The trial for the remaining defendants in the Sept. 13, 2008, slaying of Le in the driveway of his Novato home is scheduled to start next month. The trial was scheduled to start Tuesday, but was postponed Friday, according to attorney Robert Casper. Jury selection is now set for Oct. 3.
Washington’s attorney Jay Ruskin was not available for comment this morning.
Along with Washington, Larry Blay Jr., 21, Kevin Abram, 20, Deandre Blay, 19, and C. Autis Johnson, 20, all of San Francisco, were indicted on June 12, 2009, for Le’s murder.
Anchulita Uribe, 36, of Antioch, is charged with being an accessory. He is represented by Casper.
The indictment alleges Le was killed by means of lying in wait and to prevent his testimony regarding the robbery of his San Francisco business in 2008.
Those special circumstances mean all five murder defendants could face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Larry Blay Jr. and Washington also faced the death penalty because they were adults when Le was killed, but Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said in March 2010 that he would not seek the death penalty against the two men.
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Le, 44, was fatally shot inside his Lexus at his residence at 57 Pizarro Ave. in Novato. He had witnessed the robbery of his business, Nasser Market in San Francisco, on Aug. 23, 2008.
The indictment alleges Washington, Deandre Blay, Abram and Johnson followed Le home from the market in a 1991 Acura Legend and ambushed Le in the garage. Le was shot once in the head.
Larry Blay Jr. allegedly ordered the killing from his jail cell in San Francisco, according to the indictment. The indictment does not identify who shot Le.