Family of victim in Kawana school killing speaks out

When Maria Angel thinks about the last time she saw her younger brother, it brings tears to her eyes.

It was the night of Jan. 8, and Juan Carlos Angel-Esparza, 20, was lying mortally wounded on the grounds of Kawana Elementary School in southeast Santa Rosa.

He had just been stabbed in a gang fight and the 22-year-old sister rushed from the apartment she shared with him nearby to see what happened.

"I was there before the ambulance arrived," said Angel, tearing up. "Somebody called me. I ran over. He couldn't really talk," she said Monday, after attending a hearing at the Sonoma County courthouse.

Her brother later died from a direct stab wound to the heart. His accused killer, Raul Vega, 19, also of Santa Rosa, was arrested two days later and charged with first-degree murder.

On Monday, a shackled Vega was in court, along with three co-defendants in a separate gang-related slaying in Contra Costa County.

Angel and her mother wore T-shirts with Angel-Esparaza's image on them and waited for any update from prosecutors.

A preliminary hearing was expected to be set in a Tuesday hearing, for sometime in April.

"He deserves whatever punishment possible that he can get," Angel said of Vega.

Police said the Kawana killing arose from a growing rivalry between subsets of the same sureno gang feuding over the Moraga Drive territory.

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