Prosecutors cast doubt Thursday on claims from a Santa Rosa gang member that he was the peacemaker in a group police believe gunned down a Vallejo musician in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
Jurors were shown a letter written by defendant Christopher “Spider” Mancinas, 31, in which he calls for the assassination of someone who crossed the Mexican Mafia and also for assaults on two others who did the gang wrong.
The letter was written while Mancinas was serving a short stint in San Quentin about six months before the 2010 killing of bass player Dewey Tucker, 24.
Prosecutors said the letter contradicts Mancinas' testimony that he was a friend to gang members of all stripes and someone who wanted to broker a cease fire between warring factions.
Mancinas maintains that on the night Tucker was killed, he drove to Vallejo for a peace meeting. He said a younger associate, Raul Vega, 20, of Santa Rosa, mistook Tucker's car for a rival's, chased it onto Interstate 80 and shot at it, killing Tucker.
Under cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Bob Waner challenged Mancinas' version of events. He also attacked his credibility, questioning him about his infidelity to his wife, his use of fake identification and his practice of bringing his toddler on gang business.
Mancinas admitted using his wife as a go-between for gang letters, apparently at the same time he was seeing a girlfriend in Rohnert Park.
The letters were labeled “legal mail” and “confidential” to bypass screeners but actually were going to gang members on the street or in the county jail.
“Is there some way we can tell when you're being truthful?” Waner asked.
Mancinas responded: “I don't believe anybody can tell.”
Mancinas served as an FBI informant in 2009. He testified his tips to agents prevented gang violence and yielded numerous arrests. He said he agreed to the relationship because he wanted to leave the gangs he'd been in since his early teens. But he testified FBI agents encouraged him to maintain his contacts so they could continue to receive information.
At one point, he said FBI Agent Dale Dutton promised to give him some money, help him get his facial tattoos removed and “send me on my way.”
Instead, the FBI terminated its relationship with Mancinas in October 2010 after he was arrested on drug and weapons charges.
Dutton testified Thursday that he never made any such promises to Mancinas or urged him to stay in the gang. He said Mancinas' role was to provide intelligence about San Quentin inmates approaching release.
He was paid $2,000 for his services, Dutton said.
The testimony came in the second week of trial. Closing arguments are expected Monday.