General Crime

* Omar Gonzalez is charged with first degree murder for shooting in a man in Oakland over a choice in music

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UPDATE Click Here May 3, 2011 Omar Gonzalez reputed gang member was sentenced today to 77 years for Oakland murder of Rene Castillo

A reputed gang member should be convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting death of another man after the two men quarreled over the choice of music at a party at an auto body shop in East Oakland 10 years ago, a prosecutor told jurors today. In his opening statement in the trial of Omar Gonzalez, 34, prosecutor Tim Wellman said Gonzalez and Rene Castillo were friends even though mutual acquaintances said Gonzalez was a member of the Sureno gang and Castillo was a member of the rival Border Brothers gang.

But Wellman said the two men got into a fight in the early morning hours of June 23, 2001, when Gonzalez, who had been playing a CD of the late rap star Tupac Shakur, started playing a CD with lyrics that touted the Sureno gang. He said Castillo, a 21-year-old native of El Salvador who was known as “Droopy” to his friends and worked as a janitor at a sports stadium in San Francisco, objected to the Sureno music, got into an argument with Gonzalez and swung at Gonzalez with a screwdriver.

However, other people at the party at Gonzalez’ body shop in the vicinity of 86th Avenue and E Street attended by about 20 people pulled the two men apart, and Castillo went back to his van to rest and calm down, Wellman said. The prosecutor said Castillo “posed no threat” to anyone at that time, but Gonzalez grabbed a rifle that was stashed in his body shop and started looking for Castillo, yelling, “Where’s Droopy? Where’s Droopy?”    Wellman said Gonzalez “was on a mission to kill” and fatally shot Castillo and wounded two other people. Castillo “was dying in front of his friends” and said “‘he killed me,'” referring to Gonzalez, Wellman said.

He told jurors “the identity of the shooter was never in doubt” because multiple witnesses said it was Gonzalez, but he said Gonzalez fled to Houston, where he used a different name. Wellman said it appeared for many years that Gonzalez would get away with killing Castillo, but he was finally discovered in September 2008, when his girlfriend called police in Houston to report that he had assaulted her and police learned there was a murder warrant for him in Oakland.

Maria Bedrosa, who was Castillo’s girlfriend at the time he was killed, testified that Castillo and Gonzalez had never previously had any problems with each other despite the men’s different gang allegiances. She said she joined the Border Brothers gang at the age of 15 but dropped out of the gang eight years ago. Bedrosa, who was 17 at the time of the shooting and is now 27, said Gonzalez organized a party at his auto body shop so that he and his friends wouldn’t be observed by police. Bedrosa said, “We were told to go to the body shop because the police was out and they wouldn’t mess with us if we were drinking inside” instead of on the street.

Gonzalez’s lawyer, Albert Wax, chose not to present an opening statement today and instead will give one after the prosecution rests.

Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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