Arraignments on Two More Defendants Continued in Davis Stabbing

KetMoReeby Antoinnette Borbon

Five suspects facing murder charges with criminal street gang enhancements have made their first appearance in court.

Carlos Biviescas, Martyn Alex Contreras, Anthony Daniel Rivera, Zackary Thomas Sandeno and Victor Manuel Vergara have been charged with murder, along with gang-related enhancements.

Yolo County District Attorney’s Office filed a two-part amended complaint, emphasizing that the crime was of a criminal street gang nature.

Both Anthony Rivera and Carlos Biviescas have requested a continuance to retain private counsel.

They stood small in stature, one at a time, as the judge read the charges against them.

Biviescas answered, “Yes, your honor, I understand and I am currently looking for counsel. Rivera repeated the same, as he responded to the judge.

The family of those two defendants were present.

Witnesses say a fight broke out in KetMoRee Thai Restaurant & Bar at about 1:30 AM on Saturday, September 19.

A Hacienda Heights man, Peter Gonzales, 23, died of a fatal stab wound. He was taken to the UCD Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to UCD employee alert emails.

Mr. Gonzales was in Davis to attend his sister’s wedding.

Davis Police, along with help from YONET (Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team) and the Yolo County Gang Task Force, are actively searching for the sixth suspect, Joseph Gregory Sandeno, who remains at large.

Many in the Davis community still in shock over the death of Gonzales.

“It used to be a calm, safe place to raise your kids, to live but I’m not so sure anymore,” stated a downtown resident.


About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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  1. TrueBlueDevil

    This sad case seems to brilliantly show how the soft-on-crime crowd has done us no favors.

    Homicide suspects no stranger to crime, court records show

    The Davis Enterprise is a few days behind the Vanguard crowdsourcing efforts, which revealed the criminal backgrounds of these men.

    “Biviescas’ background shows two prior prison terms — one from a 2011 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from an incident in which he and a co-defendant attacked two other men with cinderblocks, court records show.”

    “By 2013, he was back in court, his release under California’s AB 109 prison realignment measure revoked for apparent noncompliance with his probation terms…. “

    Rivera faced attempted murder and assault charges in connection with a 2008 incident in which he and another man attacked a third person with a knife, according to his court file. He later pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge and received five years of probation, the terms of which called for him to avoid any gang associations….”  ***Five years probation for attempted murder??***

    Zachary Sandeno: “In late 2012, he was arrested on suspicion of vandalism and battery on a peace officer with a gang enhancement in connection with separate incidents …”

    “Sandeno later received probation for the officer battery, as well as for a 2014 DUI and resisting-arrest case in which his younger brother Joseph Sandeno also was involved, court records show.”

    1. Davis Progressive

      how does this reflect a soft on crime approach?  the individual was convicted of a crime that was not covered under either of the two reforms ab 109 or prop 47.  how is this an ab 109 case which precludes split sentencing for violent crimes?  there is information missing here.

      “Five years probation for attempted murder?”  no.  it was not five years probation for attempted murder.  attempted murder would have been a life sentence.  obviously the da in that county did not believe they could convict on those charges.  why would a da do that?  probably because they overcharged the case to begin with and didn’t believe they could get a conviction on attempted murder.

      you really don’t understand the legal system and how it works.  and you’re cherry-picking information that doesn’t give you details.

    2. Anon

      TrueBlueDevil, I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree with your point. I know it is often difficult to sort out and prove who committed a crime, especially when more than one defendant is involved. Hence the DA often strikes deals that may appear to be soft on crime to ensure at least some crime gets placed on a defendant’s record.  In addition, DA’s have limited resources, and are often forced to strike deals because they just cannot prosecute every crime that comes along.  In order to get the defendant to agree to the deal, it has to be a punishment that is far less severe than what the defendant would get if the case went to court.  It is a very frustrating legal system, but so often crime by its very nature is often difficult to prosecute.

  2. TrueBlueDevil

    Interesting comments from Davis Enterprise readers criticizing the police.

    Sarah D.·: “I seriously disagree with this decision. Being a younger resident of Davis, I frequently go out and enjoy the night life here in Davis. The problem is not the bars, “nightclubs”, and restaurants. It is the failure of the Davis Police to patrol the streets during the time downtown gets more lively. This is the first time I’ve seen officers out on patrol in the streets monitoring the activity. I suppose it takes a horrific incident to push them into action.

    “People from outside of Davis coming into our town and participating in our usually safe nightlife is a problem. We have a reputation for being a laid back and safe community where you could get away with anything. That is a lovely notion, but we have nothing protecting our sheltered nightlife.”Business owners should not be punished for what happens on the street when the City of Davis Police should be standing there to help them when things overflow out of their establishents.”

    Berkeley Strelich: “Drinking is not the problem. These pictures are all well and nice but if you’re actually out in Davis at night, you NEVER see a single patrol car other than speed traps. There will always be drinking, we are a college town. We need to step it up with security.”

      1. Anon

        Excellent point.  The police or lack of police had nothing to do with this particular crime.  It took place inside KetMoRee.  Therefore any investigation/introspection has to start there.

        1. Frankly

          Sure they do, and if they didn’t there would be more crime in those areas.

          How important was that young man’s life to you?  How important would it be to prevent the next murder?  Would you support stop and frisk in Davis?

          1. David Greenwald

            I’d prefer to look at studies on whether your assertion is true.

            I’m not willing to support stop and frisk in Davis or anywhere. I’m sorry that a young man was killed and I am willing to support adding patrol officers to Davis, but I’m not willing to give up liberties or curtail bar business.

        2. Frankly

          I agree with you on those points.  However, I think it is common sense that more officers visible and engaged are going to help prevent trouble because the word gets out in the bad guy circles.

          Security officials visible and keeping an eye on things and in closer proximity to any trouble that might happen… if that isn’t helpful then why would we demand it inside the venues?

    1. Tia Will

      I would like to point out that these comments are not representative of the attitudes of all of the young adults of our community. In speaking with my 23 year old son, he pointed out that he and his girlfriend are no longer participating in the nightclub scene or in Ket Mo Ree in particular because of in his words “the nasty atmosphere” there. Having fun, relaxing and having a few drinks with your friends is one thing quite distinct from engaging in the activities common in these businesses by his description, not mine, of disgusting behavior with people so drunk that they are throwing up, unable to discern that they are not in an appropriate place to urinate of defecate or engage in sexual activity, let alone so disinhibited that they engage in violent, potentially lethal activities.

      I for one, rest assured that my son is no longer participating in the late night “night club” scene. And I find that a shame.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Tia, when I was an undergrad we rarely saw this kind of activity. It sounds like your son is making mature decisions, congratulations!

        Your son’s observations are in contrast to others who claim KetMo is a well run, conscientious place. Their are online comments which also hint at this uncouth behavior. I went to my share of nightclubs in my youth, and many took a turn for the worse at 11, 11:30, midnight, when many patrons were drunk,  and booze, cash, and hormones were flowing. It takes a mature bar staff, wait staff, and management to tame these natural occurrences.

        When Davis was smaller, the Davis Police Department would have 2 officers walk through The Grad or Mr. Bs late at night. I don’t know if this was standard protocol or not, but it was done frequently. This probably had several positive outcomes. 1. They could spot potential problems early. 2. Staff and managers knew the police were coming through, so they had to stay professional.

        The two women commenters above say that they rarely or never see police downtown, which begs the questions of where are they? Are they driving around in their patrol cars, or are they busy in north or west Davis? Are they at Fluffys?

        One woman says the stabbing happened outside the club, which is a new major assertion.

        1. Antoinnette

          No, it happened inside.

          I remember the Grad had police walking through and patrolling parking lot. Yes, this did make it safer, I believe.

          People may have been a bit more apprehensive about starting trouble. I also recall a whole lot of huge bouncers that stayed on top of things.

          Any fights were done with fists but stopped immediately with an exclusion to enter again.

          I’ve heard anything goes at the KetMoRee..illicit stuff.

          Probably one reason why so many go there, just a guess.




  3. DanH

    “It used to be a calm, safe place to raise your kids, to live but I’m not so sure anymore,” stated a downtown resident.

    This is a familiar comment regarding life in Davis. I heard it first in 1970 when I moved into town. Antique Bizarre was the happening tavern for the downtown beer and music scene. Davis stores couldn’t sell beer after 10:00 p.m. and if you wanted wine or liquor you had to drive past the city limit sign on Chiles road to buy it. Hippie music and pot smokers from the Bay Area were ruining the town.

    Let’s round up the usual suspects. Let’s blame out of town criminals. Let’s make the the downtown nightclubs the scapegoat. Hire more police. Assemble some committees and lets assign some blame to someone, anyone other than ourselves. This is an opportunity for political grandstanding not to be missed.

    Bad guys from out of town visit Davis to enjoy the nightlife and (as one Vanguard poster claims) to take advantage of young and naive Davis women. I guess that’s why the gangs come here. It’s all about fun and women. Why do Nortenos come to Davis in the first place? The come here to do business. They come here to supply the insatiable demand for recreational drugs in Davis.

    Yep, Davis has this little 40 year-old, multigenerational problem with drugs. From curious elementary school and college students to education and retail professionals there are lots of unhappy people in town with plenty of disposable income. They are ready to spend on consumables that will make them feel less miserable for a while. Davis provided enthusiastic financial support for the Colombian drug cartels in the 80’s and it supports Norteno to this very day. Discuss legalizing recreational drugs or not. Outlaw the e-cigarette users. Regulate Happy Meals. Ban sugary drinks. Slap the out of town bad guys around a little if they get out of line. But, we are why Davis isn’t as safe as it used to be.

    1. Anon

      As far as we know, there was no drug dealing involved in this crime.  It was a simple assault/murder case in a nightclub where lots of drinking was going on in close quarters – and I would argue bouncers not acting in a professional manner, if any of the anecdotal evidence from DavisWiki and Yelp is any indication of what is going on.

      1. DanH

        I did not imply that a drug deal was involved in this crime. Nonetheless, drug dealers and other sketchy elements of society have a traditional habit of congregating at nightclubs. This is a downside of the business that must be weighed by both licensing and law enforcement when considering the value of these establishments for the community.

    2. Frankly

      I think there is probably something true here.  Davis residents like their drugs, and they have to get here somehow.  However, I don’t hear much of this explanation from the Davis PD.  It will be interesting the hear the final report from the DA.

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