Los Angeles County prosecutors have dismissed murder charges against two alleged gang members awaiting trial for the fatal knifing last year of a former Palmdale High School football player, and now say they believe others were responsible for the slaying.
John Spillane, head deputy in the district attorney's Lancaster office, said recanted and inconsistent statements by witnesses led to Tuesday's decision to drop the murder charges filed after the death of Michael Frazier, 19, during a fight June 20 at a Palmdale house party.
The original defendants, Mario A. Garcia, 21, and Rene O. Gonzalez, 22, pleaded no contest Tuesday to an assault charge in the stabbing of Frazier's older brother, Anthony, at the same party. The two men are set to be sentenced April 14 in Lancaster Superior Court.
The two previously had been held to answer for murder charges after a preliminary hearing in Antelope Municipal Court. But with new information from witnesses, Spillane said the homicide investigation "is pointing to a couple of other people."