MARTINEZ -- Two men were gunned down without warning inside a Richmond restaurant in 2009 because they were dressed in red -- the color claimed by their killers' rival gang, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.
"There was no way for Intaz Ahmed and Alvaro Garcia-Pena to know that, while sitting at a bar drinking, they'd be blown away," Contra Costa deputy district attorney Aron DeFerrari said in his opening statement for the trial of two alleged Richmond gang members accused of murdering to promote a gang.
"These were not spontaneous killings," DeFerrari said. "These were planned executions."
Defendants Ignacio Ruiz, 31, and Steven Valencia Miranda, 23, are on trial for conspiracy to commit murder, gang participation and two counts of murder for the Aug. 30, 2009, shotgun killings of Ahmed, 32, and Garcia-Pena, 23, at the Alvarado Pit Boss Bar and Grill on San Pablo Avenue.
Defense attorneys described the accused men as former gang members who were in the wrong place at the wrong time that day.
They said neither defendant participated in the killings and were guilty only of being socially connected to people who were still active in the gang.
Ahmed, of Richmond, and Garcia-Pena, a San Francisco native, were summoned to the restaurant by a bartender friend who was having a slow shift. While standing outside the restaurant smoking a cigarette, Ahmed commented, "We better go back inside, we are going to get killed out here,"
"We'll never know what or who he saw standing outside on San Pablo Avenue, but 45 minutes later, he was dead," DeFerrari said.
They were drinking beer at the bar when Miranda and his former co-defendant Eliseo Flores, 25, came in masked in blue bandannas, DeFerrari said. Flores, wielding a shotgun, quickly shot Ahmed in the neck and Garcia-Pena in the head, killing them instantly, according to the prosecutor. Flores took a plea deal and is serving a 25 years-to-life prison sentence.
Miranda served as Flores' backup and fired a revolver twice into the floor before he and Flores fled in an awaiting car driven by Ruiz, DeFerrari said.
When police arrived at the restaurant minutes later, they saw the victims' red clothing and suspected that the homicides were gang-related, so they sent a patrol car to Ruiz's house, where they knew members of the Sureno street gang to congregate, DeFerrari said. The officers found the group burning the shooters' bloody clothes in Ruiz's garage, he said, and found the guns used in the killings in Ruiz's bedroom.
"It was inspired work by the Richmond Police Department to solve two murders in the span of 15 minutes," DeFerrari said.
Testimony in the case continues Thursday.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.