Witness recounts Gustine killing

One of the defendants is identified as the stabber.

March 10, 2011 

A preliminary hearing continued Wednesday for two alleged members of the notorious Mongols biker gang accused of stabbing a man to death in 2009 at a Gustine bar.

Albert Aleman, 37, Brandon Carvalho, 32, Ruben Silva Jr., 23, David Silva Jr., 24, Mark Oseguera, 25, and Richard Naudin, 31, had been accused of killing 33-year-old Bill James outside the bar late Nov. 6, 2009.

Only Aleman and Ruben Silva Jr. were in court Wednesday.

Five witnesses were called during the hearing. One of the witnesses positively identified Ruben Silva Jr. as the stabber.

Another witness, whose name isn't being used for safety reasons, was sitting next to James just before the killing. She described the scene as "chaotic" and admitted that she didn't want to recollect what happened that night. "I remember wanting to leave and being scared," she said as she cried on the witness stand. "I don't want to remember it."

Later, a witness recalled someone saying something about "Mongols" and heard James saying, "I don't give a s---."

During Tuesday's hearing, three of the defendants signed plea deals and were sentenced, while David Silva Jr. had charges against him dropped.

Naudin pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Oseguera pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Carvalho pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years in prison. His prison term was extended by a year because of a previous term he served.

Several witnesses were interviewed before it was determined that David Silva Jr. wasn't involved, said John Garcia, the attorney who represented him.

The night of James' killing, as many as 10 men walked into the bar at 431 Fifth St. in Gustine, and a fight erupted with James. He was stabbed several times by at least two of the men. After the fight spilled out into the street, James was stabbed again and collapsed, according to Merced County sheriff's detectives.

Shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital Los Banos. Detectives have said there's no evidence James was gang-affiliated.

The same weekend of James' killing, members of the Mongols had booked every room of a Santa Nella hotel. The hotel staff abandoned the business out of fear of the gang, according to a sheriff's report.

In the months after the stabbing, sheriff's detectives rounded up a total of nine suspects throughout Southern California and the Bay Area, with help from agencies in those areas.

However, three were released because of a lack of sufficient evidence against them.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsun-star.com.

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