March 6, 2021

‘You took away not only a father but a son, a brother, and my best friend’: Pittsburg men get 49 years to life for 2014 murder

MARTINEZ – Two Pittsburg men in their 20s were sentenced to 40 years to life, plus an additional nine years, for convictions related to a 2014 shooting that left a 19-year-old man dead and two of his friends wounded.

Justin Singh, 24, and Deion Nazareta-Albano, 23, were both convicted last June of shooting at 19-year-old Anthony Valdez in December 2014. Valdez was sitting in a car with two of his friends on the 200 block of Auburn Lane in Pittsburg when two people exited a nearby car and opened fire. Valdez left behind two children.

“You took away not only a father but a son, a brother, and my best friend,” the mother of Valdez’s children said in court Friday before Judge Nancy Stark handed down a sentence. “He is truly missed every single day.”

Two of Valdez’s friends were also shot that night and survived, but still suffer serious physical and emotional trauma, deputy district attorney Jordan Sanders said in court Friday. During trial, Sanders told jurors that Valdez and both defendants had ongoing tension, in part because one of Valdez’s friends had made a statement to police about someone who belonged to the same Pittsburg-based gang as the defendants.

Regardless of the sentence, both defendants will likely get a chance for a parole hearing after 25 years, due to a state supreme court hearing affecting people convicted of serious crimes before their 25th birthday.

Stark could have imposed an additional seven years for each attempted murder count, but opted against it, noting that both defendants were young at the time of the shooting (Nazareta-Albano was 17). Sanders blasted her decision in court, saying that the defendants “knew exactly what they were doing with their gang member buddies.”

“When the court dismisses it because they were young, I think it pales in comparison with the events,” Sanders said, later adding, “It is tragic that the court is striking those enhancements.”

Stark responded that she agreed the offense was serious and pointed out she wasn’t exactly letting either defendant off the hook.

“The defendants probably won’t get out of jail until they’re in their 60s,” she said.

Neither defendant spoke in court, though they were given an opportunity. Nazareta-Albano’s attorney, Esteban Alvear, told Stark he took exception to Sanders saying his client felt no remorse for the crime, adding that Nazareta-Albano was willing to take a plea deal before the case went to trial.

In the June trial, Sanders told jurors that both defendants were part of a gang known as Midtown and that they’d killed Valdez over something as trivial as a perceived disrespect. Prosecution witnesses included one of the shooting victims who said he was against taking the stand but was doing it because he felt like he “owed it to” his friend who’d been killed.

Jurors were also shown a graphic video of police body camera footage showing Valdez struggling to stay alive with gunshot wounds to his torso. During the video, prosecutors said Valdez identified one of the shooters as “Deon.”

“Stay awake, you’re gonna be alright, dude,” an officer can be heard telling Valdez, on the video.

“I can’t breathe,” Valdez replies.

“Anthony! Anthony! Stay with me! ” the officer yells moments later. “I need you to be strong, ok?”

Several minutes later, EMTs strapped a barely conscious Valdez onto a gurney and cart him off. He died later that night.

“I get questioned a lot by his eldest (child) about when he’s coming home,” the mother of Valdez’s children said in court Friday. “It brings me to tears.”