RICHMOND – A murder case in Contra Costa appears to have fallen apart.
Two brothers who were facing murder charges and potential life sentences are now free men, after prosecutors agreed to a voluntary manslaughter plea deal and corresponding three-year prison term, court records show.
Adrian Sales-Domingo, 26, and Omar Sales-Domingo, 20, were charged with murder for allegedly beating to death 38-year-old Felix Perez Itzep at Lucas Park in May 2018. Their preliminary hearing in November of that year revealed a number of potential problems for the prosecution: a key witness who was drunk, conflicting information over how the fight started, and a language barrier that may have garbled the defendants’ statements to police.
Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys would comment on the plea deal. The three-year sentence was handed down this month and awarded both defendants credit for the time they’ve spent in county jail since their arrest two and a half years ago. They have since been released, according to jail records.
Itzep was arguing with the brothers over beer when the fight started. Itzep’s friend, who was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication at the park that night, later told police that he witnessed the fight. But his credibility as an eyewitness was diminished when he admitted to not just being drunk that night, but having consuming 48 ounces of beer.
According to a Richmond patrol officer who passed by during the fight, the brothers were seen stomping on Itzep as he lay on the ground. He was found with a swollen and bloody face, and transferred to a hospital where he was declared dead. Blood was later found on the brothers’ shoes.
The brothers later told police that Iztep attacked them first and brandished a gun at them. The statement was made in Spanish, which police thought at the time was their only language. However, it later came out that their primary language was Mam – a Mayan language spoken by several hundred thousand people in Guatemala – and that their Spanish was limited. Defense attorneys argued this affected the accuracy of investigators’ interpretation of the police interview.
On top of that, a former girlfriend of Iztep testified that he’d been violent with her and pulled an imitation firearm on prior occasions, according to the preliminary hearing transcript.