A judge ruled today that there’s sufficient evidence to have four men stand trial on three counts of murder and other charges for a shooting after a tattoo party in San Leandro two years ago that left three people dead and three others wounded. The motive for the shooting that occurred in a parking lot outside the party location at a warehouse in the 2600 block of Alvarado Street in San Leandro at about 1:20 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2011, wasn’t made explicit during a preliminary hearing that began on July 24 and met intermittently on three other days, including today. But in making her ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes noted that a prosecution witness told police that the suspects “had a problem” with the victims in the shooting and “needed to take care of it.” Killed as they sat in a green Ford Explorer that had been blocked from leaving by another car were Leneasha Northington, 16, a student at San Leandro High School, Shanice Kiel, 19, of San Francisco, who had been accepted at San Francisco State University, and 23-year-old Joshua Alford, of Oakland. The four men who were ordered to stand trial are Aaron Stewart, 21, of Fairfield, and Oakland residents Anthony Perry, 23, Stanley Turner, 20, and Paul Arthur Stevenson, 22. The four men are each charged with three counts of murder and four counts of premeditated attempted murder as well as the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.
If convicted of the special circumstance murder charges, the four men could potentially face the death penalty. Stevenson, Perry and Stewart are all charged with firing the shots that killed the three victims and wounded the others and prosecutors allege that Turner provided the 9mm handgun that was used in the shooting and driving the suspects out of the area to avoid arrest. A fifth suspect, 25-year-old Thomas Walker Jr., of Oakland, was arrested in Hayward in August and faces identical charges but will be prosecuted separately at a later date. San Leandro police Sgt. Ted Henderson said in a probable cause statement that three anonymous witnesses and two of the surviving victims “reported seeing Walker bring guns into the party or stated that he gave the okay for the shooters to start shooting.” In making her ruling, Rhynes cited testimony by Henderson that when Stewart was interviewed on March 2, 2012, he admitted that he fired the 9mm pistol into the Ford Explorer and that he had gotten the gun from Turner’s car. Stewart also told police that Stevenson was armed with a .22-caliber revolver, Henderson testified.
In addition, when police asked Stewart who else was responsible for the shooting, he said, “You have the right two people in custody,” referring to Stevenson and Perry, who previously had been arrested, Henderson said. Thomas Broome, one of two attorneys who are representing Stewart, argued today that Stewart “didn’t do any shooting” and “didn’t say he was a shooter.” But Rhynes said, “I wonder where you got that” and noted that Stewart himself had admitted to police that he was a shooter. She said a witness also identified Stewart as one of the shooters. Darryl Stallworth, one of two attorneys representing Perry, said he thinks Stewart’s identification of Perry as one of the shooters “has to be viewed with some suspicion.” But Rhynes said Stewart’s implication of Perry is corroborated by a statement to police by a witness in the case. Michael Cardoza, one of two attorneys representing Turner, said that even though Turner brought a gun to the tattoo party he shouldn’t be prosecuted for murder because he isn’t responsible for what was done with it after he allegedly gave it to Stewart. Turner “is not culpable for homicide,” Cardoza argued. But Rhynes said Turner was equally responsible for the murders and attempted murder because he “knew there was a problem and there would be a shooting,” and was present at the scene and left with Stewart immediately afterward. The four defendants are scheduled to return to court on Oct. 25 to have a trial date set.
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