A prosecutor told jurors today that two men should be convicted of murder for the beating death of another man who was planning to rob a marijuana grow house in unincorporated Hayward more than four years ago.
In his opening statement in the trial of Mohammed Kahn, 51, and 66-year-old Manuel Trujillo of Hayward, prosecutor Luis Marin said the victims in the case, 27-year-old Francisco Lopez of East Palo Alto, and his brother, Fernando Lopez, “made a horrible mistake” by trying to rob the grow house at 19123 Standish Ave. at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2010, and Francisco Lopez “paid for it with his life.”
Marin said the house was guarded by two pit bulls and two men, one of whom was armed and held them at gunpoint while he called Kahn, who he alleged was the operator of the grow house.
Marin said Kahn, Trujillo and several associates then came to the house and started beating up the Lopez brothers in what he described as “a vicious attack.”
Fernando Lopez managed to escape but Francisco Lopez “was not so lucky” and was beaten at the house on Standish Avenue as well as at another house at 328 Panjon St. in Hayward, Marin said.
Francisco Lopez’s decomposed body wasn’t found until six months later, on Aug. 26, 2010, when it was discovered down an embankment off of Niles Canyon Road in Fremont, according to Marin.
A total of six defendants originally were charged in the case but Kahn and Trujillo are the only ones who are standing trial. Marin said three of the defendants have entered into plea bargains in the case and will testify against Khan and Trujillo.
Kahn’s lawyer, William Linehan, told jurors not to believe those three men because “they have huge motives to say they weren’t responsible” for Francisco Lopez’s death because they faced life in prison until they entered into their plea agreements.
Linehan said, “There’s no doubt that Francisco was brutally beaten” but he claimed that “none of the lawyers in this case knows exactly what happened.”
Linehan said it’s also not clear that Francisco Lopez died from the injuries he suffered when he was beaten, saying one of the suspects in the case told authorities that Lopez was still alive when he was dumped in Fremont.
He said Lopez could have died “from some other cause after he was left there.”
Trujillo’s lawyer, Brian Hong, said Trujillo worked as a handyman who worked on various properties owned or rented by Kahn but he said Trujillo wasn’t involved in the marijuana grow operation at Standish Avenue and had never been there until the night of the beating.
Hong also told jurors not to trust the testimony of the three men who entered into plea bargains, alleging that the prosecution “basically made a deal with the devil” in making the agreements.
Hong said those three men with the three defendants and Trujillo “left Mr. Trujillo holding the bag” and threw him under the bus.
In addition to being charged with murder for Francisco Lopez’s death, Kahn and Trujillo are charged with attempted murder for the beating of Fernando Lopez and with illegally cultivating marijuana.
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