Three suspects arrested in connection to the 2010 stabbing death of 17-year-old Justice Afoa are scheduled to enter pleas Wednesday morning, according to online court records.
Newark residents Rafael Tovar, 32 and Daniela Guzman, 19, along with Fremont resident Daniel Howard, 31, are expected to appear in court at 9 a.m. in Dept. 502 at the Hayward Hall of Justice.
All three suspects face charges of murder and felony conspiracy to commit murder with gang enhancements. Guzman, who was 17 at the time of the murder, will be tried as an adult.
The suspects are members of Norteno gangs, according to the district attorney’s office.
A fourth person was also arrested in connection to events leading up to Justice’s death, but is not part of the murder case.
Anthony Bernal, 22, of Newark, was arrested on Dec. 17 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury, attempted carjacking and being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition in connection to an incident that occurred on Oct. 30, 2010.
Bernal is believed to have assaulted Justice, a former Newark Memorial High School student, and a second victim during a house party in the area of Lake Boulevard and Cedar Boulevard, according to the Newark Police Department. The second victim suffered severe stab wounds and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The incident is believed to have been one in a series of events in which Justice was targeted, according to the district attorney’s office.
A complaint read in court during Guzman, Howard and Tovar’s first court appearance on Dec. 12 alleges that the trio conspired for months to kill Justice after he had beaten up Tovar at a house party in September 2010.
According to Deputy District Attorney Elgin Lowe, the suspected trio 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 span of 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.