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Murder charge added for 'Sunny Day' defendant

 

One of 16 defendants in the Operation Sunny Day indictments has been charged with the Jan. 15, 2013, murder of Jonathan Alcazar, 24, in East Palo Alto, the San Mateo County District Attorney's office said.

Leonard James Gaines, 22, is charged with killing Alcazar in the victim's Illinois Street backyard. His indictment is part of a major sweep of 16 alleged gang members who are accused of committing murders, attempted murders and other charges in connection with retaliation attacks, the DA's office said.

East Palo Alto's Sac Street and Da Vill Street gangs allegedly unified against the Taliban, a Menlo Park and East Palo Alto gang. The arrests were dubbed "Operation Sunny Day" after a code defendants allegedly used to indicate when a "hit" on a victim had been carried out, according to the DA's office.

Alleged gang members Raymond Bradford, 28, Emmanuel Hyland, 25, and Tyrone Love-Lopez, 21, were also previously charged with Alcazar's murder and for injuring another man. They pleaded not guilty in December 2014. Gaines pleaded not guilty to the murder charge on March 5.

Gaines is one of four men previously arrested for the 2013 attempted robbery of Plaza Jewelers in Redwood City and faces a weapons charge. He and defendants Bradford, Rodney Mitchell, 22, of East Palo Alto and Robert Wheller Jr., 26, of Hayward were arrested for the attempted robbery as part of Operation Sunny Day. Gaines remains in custody on $600,000 bail.

Gaines will appear in court again April 23 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

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