After more than three years of legal wrangling, four gang members accused of murdering the brother of a trial witness in a Sonoma Coast parking lot soon could get their day in court.
Trial is set for Oct. 14 for members of the Asian Boyz gang charged with the March 2008 kidnapping and shooting of Vutha Au, 24.
A major obstacle was lifted this week when prosecutor Traci Carrillo announced she would not use police statements from three of the defendants that had been the subject of seemingly endless legal debate.
Carrillo said she will rely on other undisclosed evidence to win convictions against the men who would face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"We'll prove the case without the statements," Carrillo said Tuesday. "It takes away the need to file motions to suppress evidence and keeps all the defendants joined in one trial."
The defendants, all from Santa Rosa, are charged with killing Au at the Blind Beach parking lot near Jenner in retaliation his brother Terry Au's testimony in another trial.
Quentin Russell, 27, is accused of shooting Au. The other defendants are Prestone Khaoone, 24, and brothers David, 22, and Sarith Prak, 24.
At least two other defendants entered plea bargains with prosecutors and will not face trial.
Statements to police by three of the main defendants were used in the preliminary hearing. But prosecutors also relied on testimony from jailhouse informants.
Carrillo wouldn't discuss her prosecution strategy or disclose her witness list with the trial pending.
Attorney Steve Weiss, who represents David Prak, said it's possible the co-defendants could seek more time to prepare for the district attorney's new approach.
The defense had previously been trying to suppress statements from Prak, who implicated at least one other co-defendant, and sought to have separate trial for each.
The trial was further delayed because prosecutors until earlier this year had been seeking the death penalty.
"Essentially, what we've done is simplified the trial," Carrillo said. "We took away a whole lot of legal issues we had to deal with."