A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge today criticized the San Jose Police Department over delays in a case of alleged gang members accused of killing a teen boy, but a deputy district attorney defended the police as “overworked and understaffed.” Judge Jerome Nadler, during a plea hearing for eight gang members charged in the brutal murder in April of 14-year-old Heriberto Reyes, commented on the failure of police to provide discovery material requested by defense attorneys. “San Jose (police) doesn’t seem to be responsive in terms of discovery,” Nadler said in response to lawyers’ complaints over the lack of police information about the roles their clients played in the April beatings of Reyes and his brother, who survived.
Nadler set a hearing on the status of the release of discovery in the case for January 25, during which attorneys may file motions to obtain discovery if they have not received it. But Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega said San Jose police’s homicide detectives and the department’s gang will soon turn over a “substantial” amount of evidence he will use to prosecute the eight alleged street gang members. “The judge is entitled to his opinion,” Vegas said after the hearing. “San Jose is an outstanding department and is overworked and understaffed. They are doing everything they can in a manner that is as expeditious and as ethical as possible.” “This is not unusual at all,” Vega added about the discovery process. “This isn’t a shoplifting at 7-11. Everyone is trying to do their best.”
Six of the eight defendants attended the brief hearing today, but none of defendants have entered pleas to charges. Seven of the defendants have been charged with murder in the beating death of Reyes, an eighth-grader at Bernal Intermediate School, and attempted murder of his older brother Juan, Vega said. On April 27, the brothers’ father dropped the two off after school to play basketball at Roosevelt Park, located between Julian and Santa Clara streets in an area of downtown San Jose known for gang activity, Vega said. Both victims later became the center of a large fight determined to be gang-related, even though there is no evidence that the two victims were gang members, Vega said. The prosecution claims that defendants Ruben Becerra, Scott Conway, James Conklin, Angel Lamas, Javier Lamas, Jacob Lynch and Clemente Salas punched and kicked the Reyes brothers on a basketball court at the park.
Heriberto died at the Regional Medical Center of San Jose three days after the beating, while his brother, who was seriously injured, recovered from his injuries, Vega said. The eighth defendant, Joe Chavarriai, has been charged with being an accessory in the murder and attempted murder, Vega said. Each of the individuals charged have been confirmed either as criminal gang members or as those who committed the acts for the benefit of or in association with a criminal gang, Vega said.
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