OAKLAND -- Abraham Hade, the 19-year-old Fremont man charged with killing a high school football star, took the stand in his defense Wednesday, testifying that a teenage friend is responsible for the fatal stabbing last year outside a Fremont party.
Hade is charged with murder with a gang enhancement in the April 28 stabbing death of Osana Futi, a star linebacker at Newark Memorial High School.
Hade, who has pleaded not guilty, testified that his friend, who was then 14 years old, was the person who stabbed and killed Futi. Hade also said he lied to police and his family about his friend because he was trying to protect him.
Thomas Knutsen, the defendant's attorney, asked Hade why he initially told police he had no knowledge of Futi's slaying or the party near where it took place.
"Because that was the plan," Hade said.
"The plan to protect (your friend)?" Knutsen asked.
"Yes, sir," the defendant said.
Deputy district attorney Elgin Lowe, who has accused Hade of being a Norteno gang member, peppered the defendant with questions about gang life in Fremont and the role he might play within it.
Each time, Hade said he did not know because he is not a gang member. "All this gang stuff, the Norteno stuff, this had nothing to do with me," he said.
Lowe also read aloud in court a pair of profanity-laced text messages that Hade had sent to friends after the killing. One text said that Futi "just got what was coming."
Hade replied, "I wasn't thinking when I was texting that. Honestly, he did not deserve what (my friend) did to him."
The trial is expected to resume Thursday at Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, with Superior Court Judge Larry J. Goodman presiding. Hade is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Futi died during a late night fight near the intersection of Hyde Park and Yellowstone Park drives, in Fremont's Blacow neighborhood. Hade said he and many others witnessed the fight in the street where Futi was stabbed but added that he did not participate in the slaying.
Futi's former girlfriend, Alexandra Reed, said in court last week that, while Futi lay on a sidewalk, bleeding from the stab wound and fighting for his life, his assailant held a foot-long knife and taunted him, saying he got what he deserved. The prosecutor asked Reed if the man holding the knife was in the courtroom. She said, yes, and pointed at Hade.
Hade's attorney subsequently has tried to cast doubt on Reed's testimony, noting to police on the witness stand this week that she told officers her view of the assailant was "blurry" and "not crystal clear" on the night of the killing.
The past 27 months have been a heavy-hearted time for the Newark Memorial High football program. Justice Afoa, a standout football player and close friend of Futi's, was stabbed to death at a Newark bus stop in December 2010.
Futi, a star linebacker who was named the Mission Valley Athletic League's Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, was slain 16 months later. Both teens were from American Samoa.
Last month, the school's longtime football coach and athletic director, Rich Swift, died from an inoperable brain tumor. Swift, a Fremont resident, was 60.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.