Prosecutor: Gang member killed rival over ‘dis’

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A gang member fatally shot a rival more than four years ago in southeast San Diego because the victim had “disrespected” the defendant's gang, a prosecutor said Monday, but a defense attorney said his client wasn't at the crime scene.

Maurice David Tucker is charged with murder in the June 9, 2007 death of 20-year-old Stephen Cleveland on 65th Street. A jury deadlocked 11-1 for guilt in Tucker's first trial last November, in which co-defendant Charles Neal was convicted.

Deputy District Attorney Kristian Trocha told jurors that Cleveland and his friends jumped the defendant and his friends at a Lil Wayne concert on April 28, 2007.

Tucker, 23, and his gang were upset because Cleveland's gang had disrupted a community celebration at Martin Luther King Park, the prosecutor alleged.

Tucker and Neal borrowed a green SUV, got dressed in black and decided to go after Cleveland, according to Trocha.

Just before 9 p.m. on June 9. 2007, the green SUV pulled up in front of the victim's home as he was saying goodbye to his girlfriend, the prosecutor said.

“You know who it is. It's Tuckie,” someone in the SUV said, according to the prosecutor.

Cleveland ran, but a passenger in the SUV got out fired multiple shots at the victim, killing him, Cleveland's girlfriend told police.

Neal dropped his cell phone at the crime scene and it was recovered by police, Trocha said.

Another cell phone recovered at Tucker's home had 15 calls to the man who loaned the defendants the SUV, the prosecutor said.

After the murder, Tucker talked about killing Cleveland, the informant told police.

According to the informant, Tucker said Neal initially confronted the victim but was “taking too long,” so Tucker got out and shot Cleveland in the neck.

The victim was actually shot in the upper body, according to the prosecution.

According to the informant, Tucker said he was “happy” he took care of his rival.

Defense attorney Wil Rumble said Tucker was not guilty of murder. He told jurors that his client was not at the crime scene and prosecutors don't have any physical evidence tying Tucker to the murder.

The teenagers who were walking near the crime scene didn't see anyone get out of the SUV, Rumble said.

Statements by the victim's girlfriend and the confidential informant were inconsistent and cannot be relied upon, the defense attorney said in his opening statement.

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