Copeland victory on attempted murder charges for client

Source: The Press-Enterprise

Fatal Shootings

The former manager, who is not being identified, said he believed he was the target in the murder-conspiracy scheme because he was friends with James Seay, a bar patron and brother of former San Diego Chargers football player Mark Seay, according to court documents. Court records don't make clear why the manager was targeted.

James Seay was shot and wounded in front of The Brass Key on May 17, 2004. Tribal member Robert Vincent Martinez III was charged in the case, but the charges were later dismissed, records show.

Seay, citing his lost wages and injuries, sued Martinez on May 9, 2005. In court records, Martinez's lawyer, Trent Copeland, referred to the suit as a "sham" and "extortion."

Nonetheless, Martinez settled the case. Police records show Seay was then fatally shot in front of his mother's house in San Bernardino within days of receiving a settlement of more than $500,000. The killing remains unsolved.

In what authorities describe as another link, tribal member Valerie Gonzales also has ties to gang members who are charged with murdering four gang leaders in 2000, Kersey said.

Gonzales was dating Luis Alonso Mendoza , 31, law enforcement officials said. Authorities say he used her car July 9, 2000, when the gang members were slain. The three defendants -- Mendoza, Lorenzo Inez Arias and John Adrian Ramirez -- face the death penalty if convicted.

The shootings were dubbed the "Dead Presidents" murders because the deceased were suspected of being gang leaders.

Opening statements for all three defendants are expected to begin in mid-January in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Staff writer Paige Austin contributed to this report.