by Antoinnette Borbon
A trial date previously set for November 7, 2016, for six men who allegedly were involved in stabbing a man in a downtown Davis nightclub, was vacated.
Peter Gonzales, 23, was in town to attend his sister’s wedding when he was fatally stabbed inside KetMoRee Thai Restaurant & Bar.
Witnesses say a fight broke out about 1:30 am. Gonzales was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in the early morning hours of September 19, 2015, after sustaining a fatal stab wound to the abdomen, according to Davis Police reports.
One witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Vanguard, “It was a bloody scene, a man drenched in blood from head to toe running past me as he fled the nightclub.” People screaming and running out of the nightclub, the witness recalled vividly.
He described the scene involving seven to eight men engaged in an altercation. Bouncers worked quickly to break up the fight, but their efforts were too late.
According to the witness, the lifeless body of Peter Gonzales lay on the floor.
Martyn Alex Contreras, 25, and Zackary Thomas Sandeno, 21, both of Vacaville, were the first of six men arrested in connection to the death of Mr. Gonzales. On September 23, 2015, their arraignment was postponed.
Within a few days, Carlos Biviescas, Anthony Daniel Rivera and Victor Manuel Vergara were also arrested in connection to the nightclub slaying. A sixth suspect, Joseph Gregory Sandeno, was taken into custody after weeks of eluding authorities.
Yolo County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton formally charged the six men with murder, alleging the crime was committed to benefit the criminal street gang, “Nortenos.”
In May of 2016, a secret grand jury hearing was held and all six suspects were indicted for first-degree murder, along with the gang-related enhancements.
Nineteen witnesses within the Davis community testified in the grand jury hearing.
A ruling on motions made by defense attorneys was postponed, along with vacating the November 7 trial date.
The Honorable Dave Rosenberg explained, “The court has read many papers concerning 995 Motions [to dismiss one or more counts of the indictment] but my concern is Mr. Rivera doesn’t have an attorney present. I have digested arguments. I’ve gotten more briefs on these motions than I have ever heard on any other case.”
“If the court entertains a continuance on ruling of 995 Motions, it should vacate the trial date and status conference until Mr. Granucci returns, your honor,” asserted Defense Attorney Jeff Raven.
Defense Attorney James Granucci has been appointed to represent one of the defendants but is on vacation until October. The continuance was granted and a ruling on the defense’s motions are expected to be heard on November 4, 2016, at 1:30 pm in Department 14.
Supervising Deputy DA Hamilton stated, “This case is obviously not going to trial in November, but that’s an awful long time doing nothing with the case.”
Families of the six defendants filled the courtroom.
Attorneys estimated that it will be at least three more months before the case proceeds to trial.