MV cold-case killer convicted

Gang-affiliated man found guilty of second-degree murder in 2004 shooting

A local man affiliated with a Mountain View off-shoot of the Nortenos street gang was convicted on Nov. 7 of shooting and killing 17-year-old Alejandro "Alex" Fernandez in September of 2004.

Giovanni Duarte, 26, was convicted of second degree murder with a gang enhancement and faces a possible sentence of 40 years to life in prison, according to a joint press release from the Mountain View Police Department, the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. He will likely be sentenced in early 2014.

Giovanni Duarte. Courtesy of the MVPD.

Anthony Figueroa. Courtesy of the MVPD.
Another man, 25-year-old Anthony Figueroa, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in a separate trial. He was the driver of the red Lexus the pair used to flee the scene on Sept. 24, 2004 at about 10:30 p.m. Figueroa faces a similar sentence to Duarte's for his role in the killing.

Fernandez, a junior at Los Altos High School, was shot and killed on the 500 block of S. Rengstorff Avenue. A self-identified member of the Sureno street gang -- a rival of the Nortenos -- Fernandez reportedly walked up to the red Lexus that fateful night and was shot multiple times by Duarte, according to Mountain View police.

Given Duarte and Figueroa's association with Varrio Mountain View -- or VMV, a Norteno-affiliated gang -- police said at the time of the arrest that they believed the shooting was gang-related. "We think the motive was gang-related but a random act of gang violence," that did not specifically target Fernandez, police told the Voice in August 2011.

Though police initially had no suspects in the murder, investigators broke the cold case open in 2011, thanks in part to the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force. Operating out of the MVPD's headquarters, the task force re-interviewed dozens of witnesses. The task force also used a grand jury to subpoena witnesses who had previously refused to talk to police and succeeded in making them testify with the threat of perjury charges.

During the trial, the MVPD and the FBI task force were able to convince the jury that Duarte and Figueroa had driven to the S. Rengstorff Avenue area on Sept. 24, 2004, looking for a Sureno gang member with "the sole purpose of initiating a confrontation," the joint press release said. Apparently Fernandez satisfied their criteria.

"I hope the Fernandez family can breath a sigh of relief knowing that Giovanni Duarte was held accountable," said police Chief Scott Vermeer, adding he was proud of the result of the extensive and complex investigation.


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Thank them for being able to solve this case. Please send FBI people to East Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Great
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Now the Taxpayers have to flip the bill to house, feed and medicate these killers. They need the Big Sleep.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm

How is this not first-degree murder?

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

USA is a registered user.

I guess my comment about the "victim" in this case was not appreciated.

Sorry, but here are three people, the killer, the accomplice, and the victim who could have done something useful in life but who through their own actions lead to one dead and two in prison.

Like this comment
Posted by Flava Dave
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Flava Dave is a registered user.

Whether it's copycats, wanna-be's or the real deal, VMV is still tagging around Castro Elementary school. The residents of the neighborhood have to clean it up themselves.

Wish the MVPD would be more proactive on that. Although I do like the graffiti ordinance.

There was a Norteno tag that was up on Castro's campus for long long time.

Like this comment
Posted by Mcbutters
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 13, 2013 at 9:20 am

Mcbutters is a registered user.

A dead gangbanger and another one in prison. Sounds good to me. Keep these thugs off the streets.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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