- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LAKEPORT, Calif. (AP) - Four Northern California residents were indicted on murder charges in connection with a fatal head-on crash, though they were not at the scene of the crash itself.

Prosecutors say the defendants conducted and fled a home invasion robbery in Lake County on Oct. 3 that led to the crash between Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Lewis and Gabriela Garcia, 26, of Clearlake, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported (https://bit.ly/1ipa8dF) on Tuesday.

Garcia was killed. Lewis was responding to the home invasion robbery when the crash occurred, according to authorities.

“If it weren’t for them and their actions on that day, the victim would still be alive,” Lake County Deputy District Attorney Sharon Lerman-Hubert told the Press Democrat.

The suspects were indicted on the murder charges by a grand jury on Friday and are also facing robbery, burglary and conspiracy charges. They are: Jesse Moncivaiz, 29; Robert Conaster, 38; Angelita Raffa, 28; and Lauren Faumuina, 20.

Evan Zelig, an attorney for Moncivaiz, said prosecutors were overreaching with the murder charges, and he planned to file a motion dismissing the indictment.

On the day of the crash, Lewis was responding to a report that two men and two women had entered a home and beaten, robbed and shot at a man inside before fleeing, authorities said.

The grand jury also indicted Conaster on a charge of unlawful discharge of a weapon.

Lerman-Hubert said the defendants were indicted under a law that allows defendants charged with certain felonies to be charged with murder as well if their crime results in death.

Zelig said the murder charge was a stretch, noting that the deputy was not chasing the defendants when the crash occurred.

The California Highway Patrol has not yet finished its investigation of the crash, Lerman-Hubert said.


Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, https://www.pressdemocrat.com

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