A Santa Rosa man who insisted he was a peacemaker among warring factions of the same gang was acquitted Monday of murder and conspiracy charges in the mistaken-identity killing of a Vallejo musician.
Christopher “Spider” Mancinas, 31, bowed his head and cried as the verdict was read after the month-long trial that opened a window into Sonoma County's gang underworld.
Mancinas and three other Santa Rosa men were accused of killing bass player Dewey Tucker, 24, in a plot to exact revenge on a neighbor..“Our position all along is that he went to Vallejo to broker peace between the gangs,” said Mancinas' lawyer, Jeff Mitchell. “It was the younger members of his group who went after someone they thought had killed their friend.”
The nine-man, three-woman jury told prosecutors outside the courtroom that there was not enough direct evidence to find Mancinas guilty of murder. They also cleared him of the lesser charge of second-degree murder and a third count of shooting into an occupied vehicle.
But they convicted him of participating in a criminal gang. With his prior criminal record, he faces a maximum of 13 years in prison.
He could have been sentenced to life without parole.
He also has a pending drug and robbery case that could add 10 years to any time behind bars.
His co-defendants, Raul Vega, 20, Javier Carreon-Lopez, 21 and Hector Barragan, 30, will be tried later this year. Authorities contend Vega fired the weapon that killed Tucker.
“We're disappointed with the outcome but we respect the jury's verdict,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a written statement. “Our hearts go out to the victims' family.”
The jury deliberated four days. Early Monday the foreman announced they were “stuck” by a vote of 10-2 but continued deliberating and returned the verdict by 3:30 p.m. Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
Tucker was shot to death Jan. 12, 2010 as he drove along I-80 in Contra Costa County. Prosecutors alleged the four defendants were seeking revenge on a rival who lived near Tucker, a bass player who performed with hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill.