Man to stand trial for 2012 Parkway Gardens slayings

By From page A3 | February 15, 2013

Marcel Rutherford-Chew

Marcel Rutherford-Chew

FAIRFIELD — A 19-year-old East Palo Alto man was ordered Thursday to stand trial on a pair of murder charges arising from an afternoon gunfight at the Parkway Gardens town houses in March 2012.

Marcel Rutherford-Chew joined three companions in a drive to Fairfield for a marijuana buy that turned into a gunfight that left two people dead, according to testimony during a two-day probable cause hearing.

The four men bought a $10 bag of marijuana from a resident before driving off and then returning a short time later to buy some more marijuana. The seller testified Thursday that he went into his town house to get the marijuana and heard several gunshots. He looked out a window and saw Rutherford-Chew, gun in hand, run to a car and jump in the backseat. When he got back outside, he saw one body lying in the parking lot and the car that stopped briefly and dumped a second body onto the asphalt before driving off.

During the first day of witness testimony, a friend of the dealer, Blake Johnson, testified he had been waiting in the parking lot during the drug buy when two of the four men pulled guns on him and ripped a gold cross from a chain around his neck. The two suspected thieves, later identified as Rutherford-Chew and Bernard Knight, then started shooting and the friend responded by pulling his own gun and shooting back.

Two of Rutherford-Chew’s companions, his cousin Vedell Chew and Knight, died in the gunfire.

Rutherford-Chew’s defense attorney, Robert Warshawsky, said the testimony of the dealer and his friend was unbelievable and questioned who fired the first shot.

Judge E. Bradley Nelson agreed that a lot of the testimony heard during the probable cause hearing was dubious. But he said enough evidence had been presented to let a jury decide at a trial if Rutherford-Chew is responsible for the killings.

Prosecutors charged Rutherford-Chew using the legal theory that he was committing a crime in which it was foreseeable that somebody could end up dead.

Rutherford-Chew, who is in jail without bail, was ordered back to court Feb. 26 to be arraigned on murder and robbery charges.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] 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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