The seven young people accused of murdering a Mountain View brother and sister had been plotting for at least a month, and text messaged back and forth the night of the crime as they executed an elaborate plan to rob one of the victims, according to a complaint filed in Superior Court.
Omar Aquino, 24, and his sister Teresa Sanchez-Aquino, 27, were shot to death in their home on the 1900 block of Plymouth Street in the early hours of Saturday, June 28, while Sanchez-Aquino's 8-year-old son slept in the next room. Police announced a break in the case on Wednesday, and so far five suspects have been arrested and two others remain at large.
"Omar was definitely the primary target," said Sergeant Ken Leal, who is heading the case, during a Wednesday press conference. "It is unfortunate Teresa was a victim."
The seven suspects — three of them were siblings, and two of them juveniles — "were all connected socially," police said, and were acquaintances of Aquino. Police believe robbery was the original motive, and they have not ruled out drugs or gangs activity.
"The house was ransacked," said Leal, who is heading the investigation. "[The suspects spent quite a bit of time there."
According to the complaint from Santa Clara County Superior Court, on June 1, suspects Kenneth Ivory Thomas, 20, and his 15-year-old sister Fame Thomas, both of Campbell, discussed a plan to rob Omar Aquino of his valuables and cash. They allegedly decided that Fame would go to the movies with Omar, then lure him back to his home, where the other suspects would rob him.
The other suspects include another Thomas sister, Faith, 17; Victoria Frances Thompson, 20, of Morgan Hill; Nicory Marquis Spann, 18, of San Jose; Michael David Adams, 20, of San Jose; and Kim Pham, 19, of San Jose or Morgan Hill.
The superior court complaint describes the following events on the night of the murders:
As planned, Fame Thomas went to the movies with Aquino on Friday, June 27, while Kenneth Thomas and Spann headed to Mountain View. Faith and Fame met in the movie theater bathroom the night of the crime, the document says.
The Thomas siblings texted all night, arranging for Pham and Adams to follow Fame and Aquino back to the victim's house. Spann and Kenneth Thomas met the other suspects at Aquino's home.
Once inside, the suspects ransacked the house, stealing an iPhone and other valuables. Victoria Thompson entered the home, and assisted with the robbery, the complaint alleges.
"Usually in a homicide, you don't get this number of people involved," Leal said at the press conference. "Never in my career have I seen a case like this."
Although the complaint lists Spann as the shooter, Mountain View police spokesperson Liz Wylie said that at present, "we have no way of telling who the shooter is, but we don't believe it is Nicory [Spann."
A handgun was the primary weapon, and police say it is still missing. No drugs or drug paraphernalia was found in the house.
Except for Faith Thomas and Victoria Thompson, all suspects are being charged with double murder. All seven are being charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
As of Friday, Kenneth and Faith Thomas are the only two suspects still at large. The Thomas family "has been limited in its corporation thus far," said Wylie.
Authorities had arrested four suspects last week, and on Wednesday at about 10:30 a.m. they apprehended Pham at Mineta San Jose International Airport, where she allegedly was trying to flee the state by plane. She was taken into custody without incident.
The five suspects are being held without bail, and Deputy DA James Gibbons-Shapiro is in charge of the prosecution.
On the night of the crime, during the early morning hours at 3:54 a.m., someone called 911 using Sanchez-Aquino's cell phone. However, because they lived so close to Highway 101, the call was routed to the California Highway Patrol in Vallejo. Mountain View police were unable to trace the call in time, and neighbors said they heard gunshots coming from the small pink house on Plymouth Street at around 5 a.m. By the time police arrived, the suspects had fled.
The murders shocked residents of Mountain View, none more than the neighbors on Plymouth Street, who called the brother and sister quiet, responsible people who never showed any sign of trouble. Sanchez-Aquino's son is now living with family members.
Police said there was no immediate witness to the murders and little information to go on. They say they have primarily relied on information from Aquino's past to crack the case.