Violent Crime

* Rafael Duarte Gets Life in Prison For Oakland Gas Station Murder

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An Oakland drug dealer was sentenced today to life in prison without parole for murdering a man near a gas station while trying to rob him five years ago.

Rafael Kevin Duarte was convicted in November of first-degree murder for killing 50-year-old Tony Simon near the Beacon gas station at the corner of West MacArthur Boulevard and West Street in Oakland in the early morning hours of April 9, 2007.

Duarte was also convicted of the special circumstance of committing a murder during the course of a robbery and shooting into an
occupied vehicle Prosecutor Mark Jackson said Simon and Duarte got into an argument because loud music was blasting from Simon’s Mercedes Benz convertible when he pulled up on the street near an area where Duarte and an associate were selling drugs. Duarte was upset because one of his family members was trying to sleep, Jackson said.

Simon responded by directing a profanity at Duarte, he said. Duarte armed himself with a gun after the confrontation and a short time later spotted Simon at the gas station, Jackson said. Duarte and his associate decided to try to rob Simon because they thought he had money since he was driving a Mercedes Benz, according to Jackson.

Simon started to drive away from the gas station but Duarte pulled out his gun and fired multiple shots at Simon, striking him twice in the back and killing him, Jackson said. Two women who had been at the gas station followed after Simon and called police, he said. Duarte was arrested in September 2007 for two burglaries in the Oakland area. While he was in custody, he admitted to shooting Simon but said he didn’t intend to kill him, according to Jackson.

Duarte told authorities that Simon was driving around the neighborhood trying to get Duarte and his friends to sell dope for him. However, Jackson said that although Simon had a small amount of drugs on him when he was killed, he hadn’t been involved in any drug transactions with Duarte that day.

Simon’s wife broke down in tears in court today as she expressed sadness over losing him and over the fact that the couple’s two children will have to grow up without their father. Duarte, who has long dreadlocks and a thin mustache, didn’t show any emotion and didn’t speak at the sentencing hearing. Duarte’s associate was a juvenile at the time of the shooting and was prosecuted separately in juvenile court, Jackson said.

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