Hearing for 4 accused in Libby Lake Park gang shooting that killed 2 teens

VISTA, Calif. - Testimony got underway Monday in a preliminary hearing for four people accused of opening fire in an Oceanside park in rival gang territory, killing a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy and wounding two other teens.

Martin Melendrez, 23, Santo Diaz, 20, Michael Zurita, 20, and Kevin Brizuela, 18, are each charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the shooting at Libby Lake Park on March 13, 2013.

The charges include special circumstance allegations, but District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has not decided whether Melendrez, Diaz, and Zurita -- who were adults at the time -- will face the death penalty if convicted. Brizuela was 17 when the murders occurred and is not eligible for the death penalty.

Charges were dismissed last month against a fifth man, Brian Bodden.

Oceanside police said the defendants fired on the victims near a makeshift memorial for two teens who had been killed in the park. Melanie Virgen and her close friend, Edgar Sanchez, were fatally wounded and two other teens were seriously injured, including a 15-year-old boy.

According to the prosecution, the victims were all sitting near each other on a couch that had been placed near the memorial when they were fired upon about 9 p.m.

The memorial was for Sandra Salgado, 14, and her boyfriend, 16-year-old Fernando Solano, who were gunned down in a gang attack two years earlier.

The preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday. When it's over, Vista Judge Sim von Kalinowski will decide whether enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.

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