Double murder case begins with opening statements

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Courtesy Photo.

A double murder trial opened last week involving the gang related slayings of two young men in East County.

Opening statements were made in the trial of Donte Jerome Haddock, 27, and Anthony Constantin Frank, 27, who are both charged with killing Xusha Brown Jr., 22, in 2013 and Darris Gadson-Walker, 20, in 2011.

Walker was a Grossmont College student when he was shot to death inside a parked car on April 30, 2011 in a parking lot outside the Marie Callender’s restaurant off Interstate 8 near La Mesa.

Brown was shot in the head as a passenger in a car in La Mesa on May 5, 2013. Frank is from El Cajon, and Haddock from the Eastlake area.

“Because you’re a gang member that does not make you a killer,” said Jane Kinsey, Haddock’s attorney, who said that police had “pigeon holed (him) as a gang member.”

The eight-man, four-woman jury with four alternates has been told by San Diego Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian the trial will last 6-8 weeks.

Deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach told jurors it was Frank who was the gunman who killed both men. Haddock was the alleged driver, although his lawyer disputed that.

Roach said Frank “emptied the gun” when he shot at a car in La Mesa, killing Brown and wounding the other driver, Malcolm Hune, 27.

The real killer, said attorney Zaki Zehawi, who represents Frank, was co-defendant Alaeante Akila Eason, 29, of Spring Valley, who has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

“Alaeante Eason makes a deal,” said Zehawi.

Eason faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison, but could get four years and four months, according to court records. 

Eason has pleaded guilty to some unrelated cases including pimping, drug possession and human trafficking.

Eason may testify in the trial and his sentencing is set for Aug. 20.

Roach said there was a text message sent that incriminated Frank and cell phone records implicated both men.

“Remember, I know everything from the murders to your business,” stated a text message to Frank that was sent by his girlfriend, according to the prosecutor.

Haddock, Frank and Eason were arrested in 2016 after a long investigation and they all remain in jail. Haddock and Frank have pleaded not guilty.

Driver of car that killed three people to stand trial

The driver of a vehicle who refused to pull over for Border Patrol agents until after he crashed in East County was ordered June 4 to stand trial for killing three people who were fatally injured.

Luis Alberto Virgen, 21, who is charged with three counts of murder and three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, was ordered to next appear in court on June 18 by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Jeff Fraser in the 2-day preliminary hearing.

A motorist, Greg Curtis, testified June 3 he saw Virgen’s truck speeding at approximately 100 mph on Interstate 8 in the rain and was followed by Border Patrol agents on Nov. 29, 2018.

Curtis pulled out his cell phone and recorded some of the chase and it was played in court.

“I certainly noticed the fact that the truck was sitting extremely low in the back,” said Curtis.

Virgen refused to pull over after Border Patrol agents attempted to stop his vehicle after it got onto Interstate 8 from Buckman Springs Road.

Virgen was weaving in and out of traffic at speeds up to 100 mph at times with the Border Patrol following. A spike strip was placed on the road and his truck drove over it while it was raining.

The vehicle overturned, ejecting all 10 people east of Crestwood Road on a dirt and rock embankment.

Erika Gonzalez-Cardoso, 38, was killed from multiple blunt force injuries. The other two killed were Jorge Garcia-Isordia, 22, and Celerino Jimenez-Flores, 34, according to the county medical examiner’s office.

Prosecutor Clayton Carr said Virgen is charged with murder because he showed “conscious disregard for life” while evading agents.

Virgen has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail. He is a U.S. citizen.

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