A 24-year-old man accused of murdering a poker player in his driveway in California almost two years ago is set to stand trial in August, it was reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Anthony Gonzales allegedly shot and killed Rodolfo Rivas, 29, while he was playing poker in his driveway one morning in July, 2004. Gonzales is one of three defendants being tried in connection with the shooting.
Authorities say the downtown Santa Cruz, CA, murder took place during a robbery. Police believe the three men pulled up next to Rivas' house in a car and demanded money. Rivas refused to give up his $20 and was shot by Gonzales with a shotgun. In total, Gonzales and his accomplices, Juan Soto and Francisco Valenciano, escaped with $140.
The three men face charges of homicide, robbery, and weapons, and of committing a crime to benefit a gang. If convicted on all accounts, they face life without parole. Soto and Valenciano will be tried in May.
Rivas' murder has been described as "random" by police, meaning he had no gang affiliations. Originally from El Salvador, Rivas had been living in the United States for five years at the time of his death.