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A judge today ordered a 19-year-old woman to stand trial on a murder charge for allegedly deliberately hitting and killing a man with a car at the site of a street party in East Oakland in June. At the end of a one-day preliminary hearing, Alameda County
Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright ruled that prosecutors also produced sufficient evidence to have Deja Lewis stand trial on a use of a deadly weapon enhancement clause for allegedly using her car to strike and kill the alleged victim, 33-year-old Oakland resident Luis Velasco. Lewis is accused of running over Velasco at the corner of 61st Avenue and Eastlawn Street shortly after 9 p.m. on June 16.
Officer Leonel Sanchez said in a probable cause statement filed in court that Lewis has confessed that she knowingly ran over Velasco with her vehicle but claims that she did so after she “was allegedly physically assaulted by an unknown male Hispanic in the 1300 block of 61st Avenue.” According to Sanchez, Lewis then drove to her home, which is two blocks away, and told her sister and five friends that she had been assaulted. Lewis, her sister and the four friends then got into the maroon Buick Regal that Lewis was driving and “returned to the scene to confront the male Hispanic that allegedly had assaulted her,” Sanchez said.
Lewis and some of the occupants got our of the car and “began to yell at the male Hispanics who were loitering in the area” where the street party was taking place, he said. Velasco was one of the men standing in front of Lewis’ car but he “was not threatening or being confrontational toward Lewis or her friends,” according to Sanchez. Police said they aren’t sure if Velasco was part of the original confrontation at which Lewis alleged she was assaulted or if he came to the party after Lewis left to get her sister and friends.
Lewis got back into her car, drove away quickly and “knowingly and suddenly accelerated,” running over Velasco, Sanchez said. Velasco was pronounced dead at the scene. Sanchez said investigators determined that “Lewis was not provoked by Velasco in any manner.” A man who lives in the area testified today that he went to the corner of 61st Avenue and Eastlawn Street the evening of June 16 after his mother told him something was going on and he observed “a bunch of screaming and hollering and chaos.”
The man, who asked that his name not be disclosed, said Lewis and her friends were “running at the mouth” and were “out of control.” Under questioning by prosecutor Matthew Wendt, the man said the group of women told the men there, “We’re going to light this bitch up” and made references to having connections to a prison gang. He said the men weren’t threatening the women as far as he could tell. The man said Lewis “was mad and looked upset” before she got into the car and ran over Velasco. He said he didn’t recognize anyone in either group.
Lewis’ attorney suggested that Velasco “happened to be in front of the car” when Lewis drove away but the man said Lewis floored the accelerator and turned the car in Velasco’s direction so she would hit him. The man said, “It was nasty to see. It was pretty bad. I seen the man die.” Velasco’s two sisters, Mayra and Monica Velasco, both attended Lewis’s hearing today. Afterward, Monica Velasco said, “We want to see justice done.” About 12 family members and friends of Lewis also attended the hearing. Lewis, who is being held without bail, is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 19 to have a trial date set.
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