A teenager who murdered a 30-year-old newlywed in a case of road rage, and was linked to the killings of two young brothers from Berkeley just 13 days later, has recently been sentenced to seven years in juvenile hall, according to authorities and court papers.
Sergio Morales-Jacquez was never charged with the murders of Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia at a birthday party in North Oakland — but he was identified by witnesses as one of three teenagers implicated in their deaths, according to court papers.
He is also a person of interest in a homicide from Fremont, court papers show.
Last year in October, authorities arrested Morales-Jacquez, then 17, on unrelated gun charges. He has been in custody at the Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro ever since.
Sign up for our daily headlines to stay informed.
ACSO: DA Price refused to move murder case to adult court
In a statement Friday, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) announced that it had asked the Alameda County district attorney's office to charge Morales-Jacquez as an adult due to his "extensive and violent criminal history in multiple jurisdictions."
"Unfortunately," ACSO wrote last week, "that petition was denied."
In March, the DA's office charged Morales-Jacquez as a juvenile with the murder of Rienheart Asuncion, according to the sheriff's office. He was subsequently found responsible for that crime.
"Morales-Jacquez, now 18 years old, was sentenced to seven years (but could be afforded probation sooner)," ACSO wrote. "Juvenile offenders are held at the Juvenile Justice Center up to the age of 25."
As part of her campaign platform, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price has said she is committed to "stop over-criminalizing our youth," which includes establishing "age-appropriate programs to address criminal violations by youths between 18 and 25" and not charging or incarcerating people under 18 as adults.
According to police and media reports, Rienheart Asuncion was killed Sept. 18, 2022, in what detectives say stemmed from a fit of road rage in San Lorenzo.
KTVU reported that Asuncion had been chatting on Facetime with his wife overseas when the conflict began.
Asuncion was shot after he subsequently got out of his truck to confront the occupants of another vehicle.
"I shouted at him, don't go out from your car," his wife told ABC7. "He left me on the phone, the screen camera is open. I heard a lot, several times of gunshots — and that's it."
"He didn't come back," she said. "The only one who came is the sheriff."
Investigators determined that Morales-Jacquez had been driving a stolen vehicle at the time of the shooting.
According to ACSO, "Morales-Jacquez shot Asuncion and then fled the scene."
"Serg" and "Jesse" ID'd as birthday party shooters
Thirteen days after the murder in San Lorenzo, police say Morales-Jacquez and two other teenagers opened fire at a birthday party in North Oakland on Oct. 1, 2022, killing Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia and wounding two other boys.
The brothers, ages 15 and 17, were not the intended targets of the shooting, police have said.
They were beloved in the Berkeley community as well as the broader East Bay, where they played soccer. They grew up in Berkeley and attended Berkeley High.
The boys' deaths sent shockwaves through the Bay Area and a fundraiser to help their family raised more than $120,000.
Within days of the birthday party, a witness had identified two of the shooters to law enforcement as "Serg" and "Jesse," according to court papers.
The gunmen were ultimately identified by police as Sergio Morales-Jacquez, Jesse Moreno, who was 18 at the time, and a boy who was 17.
Only the third teenager, who turned 18 six weeks later, was ever charged with the brothers' murders as well as the attempted murders of the other two boys who were shot.
The DA's office has asked to move that case to adult court but that decision is awaiting a judge's review.
(The Berkeley Scanner is not publishing the third teen's name pending the outcome of that ruling.)
OPD: Sergio Morales-Jacquez arrested after pursuit
Court papers show that, on Oct. 10, 2022, not long after the birthday party, OPD tried to stop a stolen vehicle. But the driver fled, leading police on a chase.
At some point, three people jumped out of the vehicle and fled with a guitar case.
When OPD ultimately contacted the driver, they identified him as Sergio Morales-Jacquez, according to court papers.
Officers also tracked down the three people who fled with the guitar case and found an assault rifle inside it.
Morales-Jacquez was arrested that day and taken to Juvenile Hall, OPD wrote in court papers.
The other three people — one of whom was identified as 18-year-old Jesse Moreno, according to OPD — were released at the scene.
Jesse Moreno was charged in unrelated gun case
Two days later, however, authorities arrested Moreno after a different chase, according to court papers.
Moreno, who was already on probation or some other kind of supervised release when he was arrested last year, has been in custody at Santa Rita Jail since that time.
He was also wanted at the time of his arrest on a warrant for failure to appear in court, police wrote.
Moreno was charged last year with 10 gun-related crimes along with reckless driving in connection with the Oct. 12, 2022, chase.
Last month, Moreno agreed to a plea deal and was found guilty of a single count of unlawful firearm activity for possession of an AR-15-style semi-automatic assault pistol.
The rest of the charges against Jesse Moreno were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
OPD identified Moreno in court papers as a Norteño gang member who had fled from police "on numerous occasions. His gang was "well known to conduct shootings, carjacking and robberies," OPD wrote.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in the gun case Wednesday morning.
Rienheart Asuncion was "selfless and compassionate"
The details of how authorities linked Sergio Morales-Jacquez to the San Lorenzo murder of Rienheart Asuncion have not been made public because the case remained in juvenile court and does not appear to have been covered by the media prior to last week's announcement from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
ACSO did say that detectives identified Morales-Jacquez as the killer after he was already in custody at the Juvenile Justice Center on gun charges, which appear to be from the guitar case incident.
Asuncion has been described as a "selfless and compassionate person who touched the lives around him," ACSO wrote.
He was on his way to the grocery store when he was murdered, according to a GoFundMe set up last year to help his family.
Aunt of slain brothers: "It breaks my heart"
Family members of the Sotelo Garcia brothers said they were upset Friday to learn about the outcome of the Morales-Jacquez case.
They have been watching closely as the murder case against the one charged defendant moves slowly through juvenile court and have diligently attended each court hearing.
Erika Galavis, the boys' aunt, said the family is very concerned about what Alameda County DA Pamela Price will do with the case, given her views on young offenders.
Galavis said the family may work with other families who have lost children to gun violence to organize a rally to raise awareness about the stance Price has taken and to make sure victims aren't forgotten.
And she said what happened with the Morales-Jacquez case did not feel like justice.
"It breaks my heart," Galavis said.
Police ask anyone with information about the deaths of Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia to call the OPD Homicide Section at 510-238-3821.
Read more about Jazy and Angel in past coverage on The Berkeley Scanner.