Bay Area gang member sentenced to 65 years to life for 2015 murder

A Solano County Superior Court judge has sentenced validated gang member, Jose Alberto Gonzalez, 23 of Vallejo to 65 years to life in prison for a 2015 first-degree murder in Vallejo.

Judge Robert Bowers on July 13 handed down a three-part sentence against Gonzalez for the Aug. 13  fatal shooting of 46-year-old James Souza: 25 years to life for the murder, 25 years to life for a gun enhancement, and 15 years to life for a gang enhancement.

Jose Alberto Gonzalez 

During the morning proceeding in Department 15, defense attorney David Nelson submitted a motion for a new trial, but Bowers denied it. Nelson also submitted a motion to strike the gun enhancement, but the judge also denied it, noting Gonzalez emptied his gun’s clip as he shot an unarmed man.

The sentencing — which followed a May 5 jury verdict in the Justice Building in Vallejo — ended the nearly 6-year-old case against a validated member of the Brown Brotherhood, a criminal street gang and a subset of the Surenos criminal street gang, its territory staked out along the railroad tracks near the overcrossing of Sacramento Street and Yolo Avenue in Vallejo, where Souza was gunned down in a hail of bullets.

After the jury verdict, following six full court days in a two-week span, Senior Deputy District Attorney Julie Underwood said the jury’s decision “brings justice to James Souza and his family and I could not be happier.”

Jurors, she said, “came to this verdict based on the evidence and the law. All the evidence pointed to Jose Gonzalez as being one of the gang members that shot and killed” Souza, a former member of the Nortenos, a rival gang to the Surenos, for wearing a red belt, a Norteno gang color, and a small Norteno tattoo on his hand.

As part of her closing remarks at the trial’s end, Underwood noted there was “overwhelming evidence” that Gonzalez was one of two people who pumped 10 bullets into Souza’s body, then fled the gang territory, leaving Souza to die.

Court records showed that six days later, on Aug. 19, Vallejo Police Officer Ryan McLaughlin spotted Gonzalez on a city street, noticed what appeared to be a handgun in his waistband, and gave chase. As he ran, the defendant tossed the gun away, believed to be the murder weapon, and Underwood told the jury his actions were a sign of “consciousness of guilt.”

Additionally, in an effort to slam the door shut on Nelson’s contention that another gang member, not Gonzalez, killed Souza, Underwood reminded jurors about Gonzalez’s cellphone text messages to his sister.

“He knew the police were looking for him,” said Underwood, adding that another message appeared to indicate that Gonzalez did not want to return to the gang area, because “the boys are there,” meaning the police.

She also refuted Nelson’s contention that the prosecution was resting its case on the testimony of a witness who was an accomplice in the crime, former gang member Audel Gomez, 21.

She also reminded jurors that a ballistics examination indicated that …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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