Two men ordered to stand trial in La Mesa murders

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After a three-week preliminary hearing, a judge ordered two men Oct. 24 to stand trial for two murders in La Mesa that were committed allegedly to benefit a criminal street gang in 2011 and 2013. The men were held to answer for the May 5, 2013 shooting of Xusha Brown, Jr., 22, and the slaying of Darris Walker, 20, on April 30, 2011. 

After a three-week preliminary hearing, a judge ordered two men Oct. 24 to stand trial for two murders in La Mesa that were committed allegedly to benefit a criminal street gang in 2011 and 2013. The men were held to answer for the May 5, 2013 shooting of Xusha Brown, Jr., 22, and the slaying of Darris Walker, 20, on April 30, 2011. 

Anthony Constantin Frank, 26, of El Cajon, and Donte Jerome Haddock, 26, of Chula Vista, were also ordered to trial on conspiracy and attempted murder of the driver of the vehicle in which Brown was killed. San Diego Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian set the next court appearance for Nov. 3. 

Brown and the driver were followed from 70th Street in La Mesa onto the Interstate 8 freeway where a gunman in another car fired at least six times. Brown was shot in the head, and the driver was wounded in his arm.

Walker was a passenger in the back seat of a car that was in a parking lot behind a restaurant on Alvarado Road in La Mesa when he was shot at 3:37 a.m.  Meanwhile, Alaeante Eason, 27, of Spring Valley, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter of Brown as well as pandering in encouraging someone to be a prostitute. Eason also pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining a prescription medication by fraud.

Eason faces a prison term ranging between four years and four months to 16 years, according to court records. Sentencing is set for Feb. 13, 2018. Deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach called more than 80 witnesses in the hearing that started Oct. 2. She noted that Haddock’s cell phone shows he was near both slaying sites at the time.

Haddock’s attorney, Ricardo Garcia, argued there was insufficient evidence to hold him on either homicide. Garcia said Haddock did not know there would be a shooting before it happened.  Haddock didn’t know anyone in the car was armed, said Garcia. Frank’s attorney, Richard Jayakumar, also argued there was not enough evidence for him to stand trial. Both men have pleaded not guilty and remain in jail on high bail. Eason also remains in jail.                                          

Lakeside man to be sentenced for murder of El Cajon man

Lance Alyn Benson, 31, of Lakeside, will be sentenced Nov. 14 for fatally stabbing Trammel Joseph Rizzuti, 35, of El Cajon.

Benson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 24, 2016 slaying of Rizzuti, whose body was found by an early morning newspaper carrier near a sidewalk in Lakeside that was across the street from where Benson lived.

Benson and Rizzuti were casual acquaintances and went out drinking at a bar in El Cajon. They got into some type of disagreement and Rizzuti was stabbed eight times, said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry.

Benson also pleaded guilty to attempted murder of another inmate when he tried to choke a prisoner with underwear. He faces a sentence of 16 years to life for the murder plus eight years for the attempted murder. El Cajon Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson accepted his guilty pleas Oct. 13, about a week before his trial was to start. Benson remains in the Vista Detention Facility without bail.

Man sentenced for scaring people in Alpine Library with fake gun

 A man who was arrested Oct. 14 after scaring people in the Alpine Library with a fake gun was sentenced Oct. 18 to 60 days in county jail after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a replica firearm.

Jack Ruben Wadel, 50, was placed on terms of three years probation with a fine. The projected release date is Nov. 13, according to the sheriff’s department, as he will get jail credits for good behavior. Wadel pleaded guilty at his first court appearance.  The incident sparked 911 calls and considerable anxiety of library patrons who may have thought the gun could fire bullets, but it was only a replica.  The first call at 4 p.m. reported an armed person at the Alpine Library, at 1752 Alpine Boulevard.

An additional caller reported hearing shots being fired, but that was unfounded. Wadel fled the library and was spotted hiding underneath boxes behind a nearby restaurant. Sheriff’s deputies arrested him after they found he was in possession of two black imitation handguns. One library patron scuffled with him, but declined medical attention.

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