The question of who fatally stabbed 18-year-old Newark Memorial High School football star Osana Futi in Fremont last April was heatedly debated today in closing arguments in the trial of the man who’s been charged in the case. Prosecutor Elgin Lowe told jurors that he believes 19-year-old Abraham Hade of Fremont is guilty because his blood was found on the knife that was used to kill Futi, the victim’s blood was found on Hade’s pants and footprints matching Hade’s size of Air Jordan shoes were found at the scene. But defense lawyer Tom Knutsen said Hade is “an innocent” and alleged that Futi was actually killed by a friend of Hade’s who was only 14 at the time of the murder and at one point told Fremont police that he was the one who stabbed Futi. Knutsen claimed that Hade is wrongfully accused because of what he alleged was a “rush to judgment” by Fremont police and prosecutors to pin Futi’s death on Hade.
Knutsen said the investigation into the death of Hade, who died several hours after he was stabbed near Yellowstone Park and Hyde Park drives after 11 p.m. on April 28, 2012, was “poor and inexcusable” and based on “tunnel vision.” However, Lowe said he believes that the teenage boy was only trying to take the rap for Futi’s murder because he is a juvenile who would face a lesser sentence in juvenile court than Hade faces in adult court. Lowe said the boy’s confession isn’t believable because he was wrong about the area on Futi’s body where he was stabbed and wrong about the location where the stabbing occurred. The prosecutor alleged that Hade and the juvenile both belong to a branch of the Norteno gang called Fremont Mexican Territory, and that in the gang culture, it is expected that juveniles will take the blame for crimes because the consequences they face are less severe than those faced by adults. However, Knutsen said Hade doesn’t belong to a gang, although he admitted that Hade may know some gang members.
Although Lowe and Knutsen disagree about who killed Futi, who was set to graduate from high school last June, they both said his death stemmed from a long-running feud between Newark Memorial football players and Norteno gang members. They said the feud started when Futi’s close friend and football teammate, 17-year-old Justice Afoa, was fatally stabbed near the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street in Newark at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2010. That crime was still unsolved when Futi was fatally stabbed. In January, three reputed gang members were charged with murder in connection with Afoa’s death, and a fourth suspect was charged with assaulting Afoa and a friend in an earlier incident. Newark police said Afoa was killed in an act of revenge because he had beaten up a 30-year-old Norteno gang member and the gang member felt embarrassed about it because he was much older than Afoa. Lowe told jurors in his opening statement in the case last month that “there were huge issues between Newark football players and the Norteno gang” and said Futi was stabbed because he had gotten into fights with several of the gang’s members last April 28 and had threatened them. Knutsen said today that Futi had “a history of viciously and violently attacking people he believed were Norteno members after Afoa was killed and beat up several people shortly before he was killed. Jurors will begin deliberating Hade’s fate Tuesday morning. School officials said Futi was named the Mission Valley Athletic League’s defensive player of the year in 2011 and planned to play football at a community college after his graduation last spring.
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