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The trial of an alleged Sureno gang member charged with the freeway slaying of Vallejo musician Dewey Tucker in 2010 and of a rival gang member a year later began this morning in Sonoma County Superior Court. Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner told the jury the two slayings are not a ‘whodunit’ because defendant Raul Vega admitted killing Tucker, 24, and 20-year-old Juan Carlos Angel-Esparza. “This case is a ‘what is it’,” Waner said. He said Tucker’s slaying was a tragic case of mistaken identity because Vega, a member of the Angelina Heights sect of the Sureno gang, thought Tucker was a member of the rival Varrio Sureno Locos sect. “He (Tucker) was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Waner said. Tucker, the bass player for singer Lauryn Hill, was shot in the head as he drove on Interstate Highway 80 near the Carquinez Bridge on his way to a music session.
Waner said Vega and three other Sureno gang members from Santa Rosa went to a Vallejo apartment complex looking for two rival gang members who happened to live next door to Tucker. Vega and another gang member, Javier Carreon-Lopez, pursued Tucker’s vehicle and Vega, the passenger, shot Tucker on the freeway with a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, Waner said. “Raul Vega learned the next day he shot the wrong guy,” Waner said. Nevertheless, a month later Vega got a tattoo of a masked man holding a semi-automatic handgun, Waner said. The California Highway Patrol investigated Tucker’s death until January 2011 when Vega fatally stabbed Angel-Esparza, a member of the Varrio Sureno Locos sect, at the Kawana Springs Elementary School in Santa Rosa, Waner said. “In the violent world of the Sureno gang, their simple creed is violence equals respect and retaliation is a must,” Waner said about the two unrelated slayings.
Vega’s attorney Kathleen Hernandez did not give an opening statement this morning. Three other Santa Rosa men were charged with Tucker’s murder. Christopher Mancinas, 31, was convicted of being a street gang member but was acquitted of the murder and other charges. Mancinas still faces a trial on gang-related drug and weapons possession charges in a separate case. Hector Barragan, 30, pleaded no contest on April 25 to being an accessory to Tucker’s murder and was sentenced to three years probation. Carreon-Lopez, 21, pleaded no contest on May 1 to participating in a street gang and was sentenced to two years in state prison. He also was given credit for serving 750 days in custody.
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