Two teens charged with murdering a Corte Madera man during a melee in San Rafael after a car chase in May pleaded guilty to lesser charges in Marin County Superior Court on Tuesday. Bryan Sandoval Rocha, 17, of San Rafael, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and admitted to participating in a street gang, Chief Deputy District Attorney Barry Borden said. He faces a maximum of six years in prison when he is sentenced Feb 1.
Carlos Eduardo Gutierrez, 19, also of San Rafael, pleaded guilty to battery and faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 25, Borden said. The defendants were charged with killing Jeffrie Lee Olmstead, 21, and injuring two other men during a gang-related fight on May 11.
San Rafael police said rival gang members armed with bats and sticks were seen running in the 600 block of B Street around 5 p.m. that day. They left the area in a white Pontiac Grand Am and a red Ford Explorer, and the Ford chased the Pontiac west on Ross Street until the Pontiac turned onto Woods Street, which dead ends, police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. The occupants of the vehicles then began fighting in the street, Rohrbacher said.
Three people in the Ford, including Olmstead, were stabbed. Olmstead told his friends to leave him, and went to a nearby house for help, Rohrbacher said. The residents called 911 and gave Olmstead first aid but he collapsed in the front yard as the combatants left in their vehicles, Rohrbacher said. Olmstead was taken to Marin General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Two occupants of the Ford who suffered minor injuries were dropped off at the hospital’s emergency room. They were treated and released, Rohrbacher said. Rocha was prosecuted as an adult. His attorney, Stephen Shaiken, said there was considerable discussion between the prosecution and defense about a plea agreement. “Time allowed both sides to figure out what happened, and this is a proper resolution of the case,” Shaiken said. Rocha claimed he acted in self-defense when he stabbed Olmstead with a knife, Shaiken said. “The question was, could we persuade a jury the injuries to two others was also self-defense,” Shaiken said. “These were high school kids, wannabe gang members,” he said of
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