OAKLAND -- A 19-year-old Fremont man was found guilty of murder Thursday for stabbing an 18-year-old Newark Memorial High School football player to death outside a party last year.
Abraham Hade will now face 16 years to life in prison for killing Osana Futi as the football player fought with Hade's friend about 11 p.m. April 28, 2012, near the corner of Hyde Park and Yellowstone Park drives in Fremont.
In reaching it's verdict, the jury of six men and six women rejected a defense contention that another teen was responsible for the killing, and the jury determined that Hade lied from the witness stand when he blamed the killing on a 14-year-old friend.
Hade, who frequently had a smirk on his face during the trial, had no reaction as the verdict was read. Futi's mother, Solialofi Ieremia, broke down in tears.
"I'm extremely happy," she said. "Yesterday would have been his 19th birthday."
Yet the verdict reached after two days of deliberation did not find all the allegations against Hade true as it rejected a prosecutor's argument that the killing was done to further the activities of a gang Hade was accused of leading.
The jury also found that the murder was second degree and not first degree, a difference that will allow Hade to become eligible for parole a decade sooner.
In finding that the murder was second degree, the jury determined that Hade did not think about killing Futi when he stuck an 8-inch blade in the linebacker's thigh.
Nevertheless, deputy district attorney Elgin Lowe said he was pleased with the verdict and thankful the jury was able to see through the lies Hade made on the witness stand.
"I'm glad they found him guilty of murder; that's what it was," Lowe said. "I'm pleased. They were very diligent and a very hard-working jury."
Hade was charged with murder in the killing of Futi a day after the stabbing, when police interviewed several suspects and witnesses to the crime. One of the witnesses, Hade's girlfriend, Alexander Reed, eventually identified Hade as the killer.
But the investigation was not without complications. Reed admitted to police and on the witness stand that her view of Futi's killer was "blurry, not a perfect glance and not a crystal clear view."
In addition, the 14-year-old Hade blamed for the killing initially told police that he stabbed Futi in self-defense.
Hade's attorney, Tom Knutson, played a small portion of that confession to the jury dozens of times throughout the 10-day trial, even showing it, in dramatic fashion, as he ended his closing arguments Monday.
On Thursday, Knutson continued to argue that his client was innocent.
"Another young, innocent man has just been convicted be the Alameda County District Attorney's Office," Knutson said. "I think the jury made a horrible, horrible mistake."
But Lowe said no mistake was made.
Lowe argued during the trial that the 14-year-old's initial confession was false and made in an attempt to save Hade from a lengthy prison term. Lowe said Hade and his friends knew that a juvenile convicted of murder faced a far less severe punishment than an adult convicted of the same.
Lowe also pointed out to the jury that the 14-year-old eventually broke down during his interrogation and admitted that Hade was the killer.
And, Lowe said, Reed's identification of Hade was solid as he reminded the jury of her emotional reaction when she saw Hade through a one-way mirror at the Fremont Police Department.
Hade will be sentenced May 31 by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman.