Preliminary hearing set for three La Mesa murder suspects

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 preliminary hearing for three La Mesa murder suspects was set for Feb. 16, 2017 in the 2013 slaying of Xusha Brown Jr. who was a passenger in a car on Interstate 8 when he was shot in the head.

The trio appeared Nov. 2 before a San Diego Superior Court judge and agreed to waive time for a speedy hearing. Brown, 22, was killed after gang members followed the driver and also shot him in the arm on May 5, 2013. The driver also had a graze wound to the head.

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 preliminary hearing for three La Mesa murder suspects was set for Feb. 16, 2017 in the 2013 slaying of Xusha Brown Jr. who was a passenger in a car on Interstate 8 when he was shot in the head.

The trio appeared Nov. 2 before a San Diego Superior Court judge and agreed to waive time for a speedy hearing. Brown, 22, was killed after gang members followed the driver and also shot him in the arm on May 5, 2013. The driver also had a graze wound to the head.

Charges were filed against Anthony Constantin Frank, 25, Donte Jerome Haddock, 25, and Alaeante Eason, 26, in July, but two of them only recently were transferred here from prisons where they were serving sentences for other crimes.

All three have pleaded not guilty. Haddock was arrested in Nevada in July, and Frank and Eason were arraigned in San Diego on Oct. 28. Frank is serving a 20-year sentence for attempted murder.

According to the charges, the slaying was committed to benefit a criminal street gang. Brown was not a gang member, but the driver of the car he was in was followed to an address on 70th Street in La Mesa. The defendants allegedly followed the driver onto Interstate 8 and someone fired six shots into the car.

The trio is also charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Haddock was the driver and court documents say Frank or Eason shot into the car. They all remain in jail.

Trial date set for El Cajon man accused of murder

A trial date of Feb. 1, 2017 was set Nov. 1 for an El Cajon man who is accused of killing his 72-year-old roommate in 2015.

Michael Patrick O’Donnell, 57, has pleaded not guilty to killing Richard Winslow Hobbs who suffered head injuries on Oct. 13, 2015, in the Hobbs’ home in the 1000 block of Pine Drive. Hobbs died in a hospital several days later.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Melinda Lasater heard testimony in the Oct. 21 preliminary hearing from two detectives, police officers, and a woman who also lived in the home. She also heard from a deputy medical examiner who said Hobbs died after being struck with a baseball bat or other type of weapon.

The case had been delayed because O’Donnell’s mental competence was questioned, but a judge found him mentally competent on Aug. 12, according to court records. O’Donnell remains in jail on $2 million bail.

Drunk driver sentenced in Route 67 accident

A drunk driver who killed a 24-year-old motorist on state Route 67 in East County was sentenced Nov. 4 to 11 years and eight months in state prison.

Roy Thomas Dunkin, 51, of Ramona, received the maximum penalty in the Aug. 20 death of Lucas Makana Riley by San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren. Riley was a sculptor and a 2014 graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Dunkin’s blood/alcohol level was .14, which is nearly twice the legal limit. The judge noted Dunkin ran a red light shortly before his Chevrolet GMC pickup truck struck another car on state Route 67 after 7 p.m. The other car spun around before the truck collided with the Mini-Cooper Riley was driving.

The Mini-Cooper exploded and Riley burned to death in his car. His family noted that dental records were used to identify him because he was burned beyond recognition.

Halgren ordered Dunkin to pay $26,000 in restitution to the victim’s family and to the other injured motorists. Dunkin received credit for 76 days in jail and was fined $1,294.

“He made the decision to drink and drive,” said Halgren.

Dunkin pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol with injuries to three people in another car on Sept. 2. He had no criminal record.

Shawna Wickwire, Riley’s fiancée, said she went from “the happiest time of her life” while engaged and then experienced “heartbreak beyond belief” when he was killed. She recalled the difficult phone call she made to his parents in Hawaii to inform them Riley was dead.

“I lost the love of my life, my best friend,” said Wickwire. “There’s a permanent void…I hope this is an example of why we should not drink and drive.”

PLNU Professor David Adey said “he was truly one of our best” and he hired Lucas Riley to work on a public art project for the County of San Diego in Little Italy.

“I don’t have hatred in my heart. Hate takes you down the road to bitterness and hopelessness,” said Tami Riley, his mother.

“We have forgiven you, Mr. Dunkin,” said Mark Riley, his father. “Let this be a turning point in your life, Mr. Dunkin…with an ability to start over.”

Dunkin’s daughter, Nicole Dunkin, said her father started drinking after her 26-year-old brother committed suicide in January 2014.  “My father is so incredibly remorseful. He hates what he has done.”

“He turned to alcohol to cope with the pain. He was completely grief stricken,” said Dunkin’s attorney, Suesan Gerard.

After Riley’s parents told Dunkin they had forgiven him, Gerard told them and the other speakers “you show the best of humanity.”

Afterwards, Mark Riley told this to reporters: “We hope and pray this man’s future is different from his past. We’re not out for vengeance. We’ve forgiven the man.”

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