A 17-year-old Kelseyville boy arrested in Monday?s shooting of an 18-year-old in Santa Rosa was formally charged as an adult in Sonoma County court Friday with murder and gang allegations that expose him to a life sentence without the chance of parole.
Marco Antonio Meza, his handcuffed wrists shackled to a chain around his waist, did not speak during his first court appearance since being arrested Wednesday in the slaying of Luis Suarez, 18, of Santa Rosa.
Police allege that Meza shot Suarez several times at about 9:40 p.m. Monday as Suarez walked on Grand Avenue near Pressley Avenue, a few blocks from his home.
Prosecutor Bob Waner declined to speak specifically about what investigators believe is the motive for the killing, but he said it was clearly gang-related.
?It is a Sure? killing a suspected Norte?,? he said. ?There is no doubt (Meza) is a Sure?.?
Waner said Suarez is believed to have been associated with the Norte? gang, which claims the South Park area of Santa Rosa around the slaying as its territory.
Prosecutors filed the case against Meza, who turned 17 in September, directly in Superior Court, bypassing any hearings in Juvenile Court.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob LaForge said state law mandates a direct filing to adult court because of the specific charge against Meza.
When a minor is alleged to have personally committed murder and a special circumstance is alleged that it was done for the benefit of a gang, the law requires the minor be charged as an adult, he said. The same special circumstance charge against an adult would trigger a possible death sentence, but minors are not eligible for the death penalty.
In court Friday, Meza delayed entering a plea until his next scheduled court date Friday. He was returned to Juvenile Halle where he remained held without bail.