Four murder suspects in a vicious stabbing attack that killed one man and left another critically injured on a residential street in Fullerton were released Tuesday after a prosecutor decided that there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against them.
"There is the possibility that with additional evidence . . . this case may be filed," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Douglas Woodsmall.
"It just wasn't ready at this time. As a prosecutor I try to make a determination as to whether or not, based on the evidence at hand, there is a reasonable probability of a conviction," he said.
Freed were Fullerton residents Manuel Lopez, 18; Marcelino Martinez, 22; Ramon Carrillo Castaneda, 21, and a 16-year-old boy, whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile.
But Fullerton Police Sgt. Tony Hernandez said all four continue to be suspects in the case.
"We anticipate getting a complaint," said Hernandez. "The D.A. wants more corroboration . . . some more reinforcement for some of the statements and evidence that we have. . . .
"It was very dark and there are no other direct witnesses," Hernandez explained. "We are still trying to piece together who did what." Vernon Morris Carter III, 17, of Fullerton, was stabbed to death, and Arthur Rodriquez Jr., 26, of Anaheim, was critically wounded in a Sunday morning attack in the 1400 block of Vista Del Mar Drive.
Police said the two young men were stabbed and beaten after a confrontation with several assailants who had cornered them on a dead-end street.
Hernandez said investigators believe "the victims were intent on buying a small amount of marijuana" from their assailants, but the assailants saw "an opportunity to separate these guys from their money" and attempted to rob them. Hernandez added, however, that no drugs were found at the scene.
Carter, of Fullerton, was found lying on the pavement bleeding profusely from several stab wounds. He was taken by helicopter to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he died several hours later.
His companion, Rodriguez, who police say also goes by the name of William J. Gaulvan, was listed in good condition Wednesday at UCI Medical Center.