NEWARK (CBS SF) – A fourth suspect has been arrested and charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Newark high school student and football star Justice Afoa two years ago in what authorities said was an act of revenge.
Last week, reputed gang members Rafael Tovar, 32, of Newark, Daniel Howard, 31, of Fremont, and Daniela Guzman, 19, of Newark, who is Tovar’s younger sister, were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit a crime for the fatal stabbing near the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street in Newark at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2010.
This week, Anthony Bernal, a 22-year-old Newark man, was arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting Afoa and a friend at a house party at 36187 Cedar Blvd. in Newark on Oct. 30, 2010.
Bernal is charged with assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury, attempted carjacking and possession of ammunition by a felon.
Authorities said Bernal also could face a gang enhancement charge.
Newark police said their investigation is continuing and they aren’t ruling out the possibility of making additional arrests.
Afoa was a defensive lineman at Newark Memorial High School and made second team all-league in the Mission Valley Athletic League in the 2009 season.
Newark police spokesman Mike Carroll said Afoa transferred to Bridgepoint Continuation High School in the fall of 2010 but after school, he regularly walked to Newark Memorial High School, where he would work out and meet with his friends there.
Carroll said the location where Afoa was killed is only a short distance from the school.
According to a probable cause statement filed in court by Newark police Officer Dan Anderson, the event that sparked the chain of events that led to Afoa’s death was when Afoa beat up Tovar at Tovar’s home on Sept. 12, 2010.
Tovar was so badly beaten up by Afoa that he eventually had to be taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley for treatment, Anderson said.
Tovar later learned that Afoa had been bragging about beating him up and Tovar felt “great embarrassment” because he was a member of the Norteno gang and was much older than Afoa, according to Anderson.
On Oct. 30, six weeks after the first incident, Tovar plotted to attack Afoa at the party on Cedar Boulevard, Anderson said.
Afoa was assaulted with a beer bottle and a friend of his suffered “numerous severe stab wounds” but no arrests were made because the people involved in the incident were uncooperative with police, according to Anderson.
The officer said that when Afoa visited his friend in the hospital, where he was being treated for his stab wounds, Tovar confronted him and “told him he would get his.”
Guzman later admitted that she had set up Afoa to be assaulted at the party in retaliation for the beating of Tovar, her brother, although she refused to disclose who the assailants were, according to Anderson.
Anderson said Tovar also planned to assault Afoa after a football game at Newark Memorial High School on Nov. 5, 2010, but school personnel learned of the incident and took precautions to avoid a disturbance.
Anderson said Tovar eventually admitted that he stabbed Afoa about five times on Dec. 15, 2010, and estimated that Howard also stabbed Afoa about five times.
Tovar said he discarded his knife and a clothing item in a dumpster near the La Pinata Restaurant on Thornton Avenue in Newark.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, Howard has prior convictions for assault and false imprisonment and Tovar has prior convictions for obliterating a gun’s identification number, auto theft and possessing drugs and a gun.
Howard also was recently charged with attempted murder and making criminal threats for allegedly trying to kill a woman in Fremont on Nov. 25.
Bernal is scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court in Fremont today to possibly enter a plea.
The other three suspects are scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward on Jan. 9 to possibly enter pleas.
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