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D.A. clears teen of murder charge, then files against an adult

Prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a Kelseyville teenager in jail for the past five months for allegedly gunning down another young man on a Santa Rosa street.

Judge Ken Gnoss on Monday granted prosecutors' request to dismiss murder charges against Marco Antonio Meza in the April killing of Luis Suarez, 18, of Santa Rosa.

Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Troye Shaffer said new evidence in the April 6 killing on Grand Avenue near Pressley Avenue points to Fernando Mendoza, 21, of Santa Rosa as the shooter. Mendoza, who is in custody in another jurisdiction, has been charged with murder, Shaffer said.

He will be in court on Oct. 15.

For months, police believed Meza, then 17, killed Suarez. He was charged as an adult with gang allegations that exposed him to a life-without-parole sentence.

Suarez, a Ridgway High School student, had left a friend's house and may have been walking home when a red car pulled up near him, according to investigators. Witnesses told police that they saw the car slow and that one person got out before shots were fired. The person got back in the car and it drove away.

Meza, who prosecutors had labeled a norteno gang member, was still being held Tuesday. He faced unspecified related charges pending in juvenile court, Shaffer said.


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