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A CHP detective testified Thursday that a Santa Rosa gang member charged in a fatal school stabbing admitted killing another man a year earlier who he had mistaken for a rival.

Officer Bill Harm testified that Raul Vega, 19, accused in the Jan. 8 slaying at Kawana Elementary School, confessed to killing Dewey Tucker, a 24-year-old Vallejo musician, on Jan. 12, 2010.

Harm testified that Vega admitted in a police interview that he and three co-defendants traveled to a Solano County apartment complex after receiving a tip of a threat against members of their southwest sureno gang subset.

When a car with tinted windows pulled out of the driveway, Vega and co-defendant Javier Carreon-Lopez, 20, followed it onto Interstate 80, drove alongside it and Vega fired at it three to five times, Harm testified.

Tucker, who lived at the complex and was headed to a rehearsal, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head.

"He said he had both hands on the firearm and pulled the trigger with both fingers," Harm testified in the preliminary hearing for Vega, Carreon-Lopez and 29-year-olds Hector Barragan and Christopher Mancinas.

All four are charged with murder in the death of Tucker. Vega is charged with an additional count of murder in the death of Juan Carlos Angel Esparza, 20, at Kawana Elementary School in January of this year.

Tucker's mother winced and closed her eyes as the detective recounted Vega's confession, made after his arrest by Santa Rosa police in the slaying of Juan Carlos Angel Esparza, 20.

"I'm still getting over the shock," Shirley Tucker said as she left the courthouse surrounded by other family members, including Dewey Tucker's father and fianc?.

Earlier in the hearing, a Sonoma County sheriff's detective testified that he had intercepted a letter the day Tucker was killed containing threats against Barragan, Mancinas and others.

Det. Brandon Cutting of the Sheriff's Office violent crimes unit testified that he tipped the men about the letter from an inmate asking for "hits" on some of them.

"The letter essentially was calling for people to be killed," Cutting testified.

In response, Vega, Carreon-Lopez, Barragan and Mancinas picked up guns and drove to Vallejo, where they believed they could find Ramon Ochoa and Vincente Tapia, two rivals allegedly involved in a turf war in southwest Santa Rosa.

Carreon-Lopez obtained a stolen car and drove Vega in pursuit of the car they thought was Ochoa's, Harm testified.

The detective said the car's dark windows made it hard to see who was inside. But Harm testified Vega told him he fired anyway.

Tucker was killed instantly. His car careened into a guard rail west of the Carquinez Bridge.

It took detectives about 10 months to identify suspects in the slaying. The break came when Mancinas, who had since been jailed on drug charges, told police, Harm testified.

Mancinas' lawyer, Jeff Mitchell, said his client didn't plan to kill anyone. Mitchell said Mancinas and Barragan went to Vallejo to try to broker a peace agreement. The younger men acted without them, Mitchell said.

The preliminary hearing continues Friday with testimony from another alleged gang member who has been granted immunity and Santa Rosa police detectives.