Charges in slaying of man dumped in Oakland hills

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Here's KTVU crime reporter Henry Lee's Rap Sheet blog for June 9, 2016:

THREE CHARGED IN SLAYING OF MAN FOUND IN OAKLAND HILLS: Three men have been charged in the shooting death of a man whose body was dumped in the Oakland hills, authorities said today.

Armani Miller, Carlos Vera and Louis Velasco have each been charged with special-circumstances murder in the slaying of 24-year-old Reynaldo Vazquez.

Vazquez's body was found dumped on the 3700 block of Joaquin Miller Road in the Oakland hills on Sept. 30. Vazquez had been shot.

Oakland police determined that Vazquez had been kidnapped at gunpoint from the area of 39th Avenue and East 12th Street in the city's Fruitvale District and taken to "a nearby structure," where he was attacked.

Vazquez's body was then tied up and put into the trunk of a car. He was shot at an undisclosed location before his body was dumped off Joaquin Miller.

Alameda County prosecutors charged all three defendants with the special circumstance of murder in the course of a kidnapping. Miller was also charged with an additional special circumstance of murder in the course of a robbery.

If convicted, all three could potentially face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty, should prosecutors decide later to go that route.

MORE CONVICTIONS IN MONTE SERENO SLAYING: Two more men have been convicted of murdering a wealthy entrepreneur during a home-invasion robbery at his Monte Sereno mansion.

DeAngelo Austin and Javier Garcia were convicted Tuesday by a Santa Clara County Superior Court jury of murder, the special circumstance of murder in the course of a robbery, robbery in concert, criminal threats and false imprisonment for their roles in the 2012 slaying of Raveesh "Ravi" Kumra, 66, a cell-phone entrepreneur and the former owner of Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

Garcia faces a sentence of at least 25 years to life in prison, while Austin faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Another defendant, Marcellous Drummer, was convicted in 2014 of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of murder in the course of a robbery. He was also found guilty of robbery, criminal threats, false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery. Drummer is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Kumra’s body was found after his wife summoned police to the couple’s ransacked 7,000-square-foot home in the hills west of San Jose.

He died of asphyxiation, authorities said, after his assailants left him gagged with packaging tape as they beat his wife and told her to "be quiet if you want to live," before making off with cash, jewelry and rare coins.

The crime was committed by members of Oakland gangs known to commit home-invasion robberies. 

Authorities said Kumra frequently hired prostitutes, including Austin’s sister, Katrina Fritz, who admitted to feeding information about the victim’s home to others so they could plan the attack.

Fritz was initially charged with murder but was allowed to plead guilty to robbery, false imprisonment and gang enhancements in exchange for her testimony in the case. She is awaiting sentencing.

A young man from San Jose was also initially charged with murdering Kumra after his DNA was found on the victim’s hand. But he was released, after five months in jail, when authorities revealed that two paramedics who had treated the man for intoxication on the day of the killing had responded to Kumra's home hours later, accidentally transferring the DNA evidence.

DNA belonging to Drummer was also found on Kumra’s hand, said prosecutor Kevin Smith.

Smith said today that the case remains active, and that based on information from the earlier trials, authorities have learned that there may be "two other potential suspects" in the case.

KNOW THIS BANK ROBBER? Union City police are searching for a man who robbed a bank while apparently wearing a wig.

The hold-up happened about 2:15 p.m. June 2 at a bank on Decoto Road. The man passed a note to a teller, saying he had a gun. He left with an undisclosed amount of money. 

There was no immediate word as to whether this bandit may be the same guy being sought by the FBI for bank robberies in San Mateo and San Francisco. In those cases, the robber was believed to be wearing a wig and fake beard.

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