VISTA, Calif. -- Three documented gang members accused in the fatal stabbing of a man outside a Fallbrook supermarket in January will appear in Vista Superior Court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday to determine whether they will stand trial on murder and hate crime charges.
The hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday. However, it was postponed.
Tyler James Dean, 25, Ryan Thomas Valdez, 18, and Kevin Garcia, 21, are accused of attacking 33-year-old Hugh Pettigrew as he was walking home from a McDonald's restaurant at about 10:45 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2016, according to sheriff's officials.
Investigators believe Pettigrew was attacked because of his race. The victim was black, and the suspects are Latino.
Following the assault in the 400 block of Ammunition Road, the assailants got into a red 1997 Honda Civic parked in front of the nearby Albertsons store and were driven away by an unidentified woman, sheriff's investigators said.
Pettigrew managed to walk to his Alturas Road home before collapsing. Family members called 911, and medics took the victim to a hospital, where he died 18 days later due to complications from his wounds.
A surveillance camera captured images of the suspects and the car in which they left the crime scene. That evidence, witness statements and other findings led investigators to identify Dean, Garcia and Valdez as the alleged killers, according to Nelson.
The getaway driver was identified and interviewed and considered a witness in the case.
Dean and Garcia were in custody on unrelated charges since February. In May, Valdez was arrested without incident in Fallbrook.