Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Man accused in fatal Parkway Gardens shooting agrees to plea deal

By
From page A5 | December 18, 2013 | 5 Comments

Marcel Rutherford-Chew

Marcel Rutherford-Chew

FAIRFIELD — An East Palo Alto man who faced a pair of murder charges since shortly after a March 2012 drug deal went bad in the parking lot of the Parkway Gardens town homes took a plea deal Monday that will get him out of jail before Christmas.

Marcel Rutherford-Chew, 20, had faced the possibility of life in prison without possibility of parole. In a brief hearing, Solano County prosecutors dropped the murder and robbery charges, Rutherford-Chew pleaded no contest to a pair of involuntary manslaughter charges and Judge E. Bradley Nelson sentenced him to three years of time in county jail.

Rutherford-Chew, then 18, joined his cousin, Vedell Chew, 24, Bernard Knight, 18, and Darren Trahan, 23, in a trip to Fairfield on the afternoon of March 7, 2012. The four men met up with a local drug dealer at Parkway Gardens, who sold them a $10 bag of marijuana. When the group opted to buy more marijuana, they split up, with three of them waiting in the parking lot with a friend of the dealer, 21-year-old Blake Johnson.

The trio, including Rutherford-Chew, decided to rob Johnson, pulled guns on him and ripped a gold cross from a chain around his neck. Johnson pulled his own gun and a flurry of gunshots ended with Rutherford-Chew and Trahan driving off, leaving behind their dead companions in the parking lot where their bodies were stripped and robbed before police arrived.

Trahan and Johnson were arrested along with Rutherford-Chew, but prosecutors ended up only pursuing murder charges against Rutherford-Chew – using the legal theory that he had agreed to join in an armed robbery, which was inherently dangerous and possibly deadly.

A judge commenting last week on the weakness of the case against Rutherford-Chew told his defense attorney, Robert Warshawsky, that he would have been doing the prosecutor a favor by throwing out the case instead of letting it go to jury trial in January.

Judge Nelson pointed out that the dead men’s families were no longer communicating with prosecutors because they believed Rutherford-Chew was wrongly charged.

Johnson is scheduled to be in court in January. He faces a pair of felony weapons possession charges for an unrelated arrest with three others a few months after the Parkway Gardens murders.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • FF64December 17, 2013 - 12:08 am

    Let's see....weren't the dead men friends of Mr Rutherford-Chew? Stunner that the families of these thugs from the "Vallejo" of the Peninsula, the city of East Palo Alto are against the prosecution of their friend. They came to FF to buy drugs, tried to rob the dealer, who then killed two of his attackers, while Mr Rutherford-Chew and the other man fled. More proof that the Solano DA has help from local jurists in their pursuit of incompetence!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Blanca BotwinDecember 17, 2013 - 5:14 am

    I do not envy you FF64. I'ts frustrating enough for me to read about the criminals going through the revolving door of the county jail, but to actually be the person doing the arresting, then have to watch them all get released would drive me over the edge. I also think Parkway Gardens should be torn down.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Kene WinstonDecember 17, 2013 - 1:17 am

    Another example of some people playing the position of God. I will never understand the real motive of these kids. Go to school and learn something new.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Lelou88December 17, 2013 - 5:36 am

    I agree with you Blanca! This is just insane. I almost had to move to Parkway last year with my daughter because it was the only thing I could afford on my Nanny salary without quitting school to get a 2nd job.. luckily God is good and we were able to find a duplex in a less then lovely neighborhood with a few great families that looked out for each other.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • boomDecember 17, 2013 - 10:07 am

    You guys will love this story then. In 2008 FFPD arrested me with 3 grams of mushrooms. You guys(taxpayers) paid for me to go to prison for 3 years. Amazingly, I guess I would've got less time for shooting someone. Having been in the criminal court system I can say the Solano DA is biased and just not very good at their job. You could actually see this on courtconnect if I were brave enough to post my real name, but I (high school education) actually wrote my own writs and briefs with supporting discovery and exsculpatory evidence I got most of my time back. Yeah , so if my undereducated butt can beat the Solano DA office in the 9th circuit court of appeals, well then you got yourself a crappy prosecutor. Kudos for time served, two men dead KUDOS!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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