Two men and a woman have pleaded not guilty to fatally stabbing 17-year-old Newark teen Justice Afoa in a December 2010 attack that was supposedly a payback for beating up one of the accused.
Daniel Howard, 31, of Fremont, and co-defendants Rafael Tovar, 32, and Daniela Guzman, 19, both of Newark, are scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in Hayward Superior Court on Jan. 22, according to the District Attorney's office.
Authorities believe all three suspects are members of Norteno gangs.
They face charges of murder and felony conspiracy to commit murder with gang enhancements. Although Guzman was 17 at the time of the murder, she will be tried as an adult.
As Patch previously reported, a complaint read in court during Guzman, Howard and Tovar’s first court appearance on Dec. 12 alleges that the trio conspired to kill Justice after he had beaten up Tovar at a house party in September 2010.
Prosecutors say the suspects sent several text messages between Sept. 12 and Dec. 15, 2010 planning an attack on Justice. Guzman and Howard were said to have texted Justice’s whereabouts to Tovar several times during that time.
On Dec. 15, 2010, the day of Justice’s murder, Tovar and Howard exchanged calls 20 minutes before the fatal stabbing, according to the complaint. Howard drove from Fremont and arrived in Newark at 3:30 p.m. The murder was reported 10 minutes later.
Tovar and Howard are believed to have stabbed Justice at least five times each, according to the complaint.
Police responded to Cedar Boulevard at Birch Street around 3:40 p.m. and found Justice bleeding of apparent stab wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Guzman and Tovar were arrested Dec. 10 after two of three suspects confessed to taking part in the 2010 stabbing, according to Newark Police Cmdr. Michael Carroll. Carroll did not comment on which suspects confessed.
Howard was re-arrested in connection to the 2010 slaying after he was interviewed by officers in jail, where he was being held on an attempted murder charge that stemmed from a Nov. 25 incident in Fremont.
Both Howard and Tovar have several prior felonies.
All three suspects are being held at Santa Rita Jail on no bail.
Howard is being represented by defense attorney Darryl Stallworth; Tovar by attorney Frank Lang; and Guzman by William DuBois.
Deputy District Attorney Elgin Lowe said it is far too early to know whether they will be tried together or separately.