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Witness: Fight over pot harvest preceded Cloverdale killing

Two cousins had been at a Cloverdale vineyard fighting over what to do with 60 pounds of harvested marijuana before one pulled a pistol and shot the other to death, a witness testified Monday.

Augustin Alvarez-Pena, 42, is charged with murder and possession of marijuana for sale in the Oct. 16, 2009 slaying of his cousin, Santos Alvarez, 24, at the Cooley Lane ranch where they both worked.

Their boss, Brett Domenichelli, testified the two were yelling at each other when he arrived that afternoon. At one point, Santos Pena told Alvarez-Pena he was "selfish like your mother" and pushed the older man in the face, Domenichelli said. That's when Alvarez-Pena took a .40 caliber Glock from his waistband and shot his cousin twice, Domenichelli said.

Domenichelli wrestled the gun away and called 911. But Alvarez-Pena was gone by the time police arrived, leaving the partially packaged pot behind at his workplace. He was arrested in Jalisco, Mexico, and extradited to Sonoma County this year.

After hearing the testimony, Judge Julie Conger ruled there was sufficient evidence to justify the charges. A trial date could be announced at the next hearing on Dec. 23.


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