Sacramento prosecutors appear to have closed the books on one of the most violent criminals to have come through the local courthouse in recent years.
Alex Brown Jr., one of three defendants convicted last year in a 2006 Land Park pot robbery murder, pleaded no contest last week to voluntary manslaughter in the strangulation killing of a purported methamphetamine dealer in Lodi.
Brown, now 35, also was convicted in two other violent attacks on suspected drug dealers in Sacramento. In addition, he was accused in a 2009 plot to break out of the downtown jail, although charges against Brown ultimately were dropped.
In his April 26 plea, Brown admitted his guilt in the July 1, 2005, killing of Jorge Gonzalez. Authorities charged that Brown and an accomplice who has never been arrested lured Gonzalez and his uncle to a house in Lodi and tied them up. Then the two suspects instructed the uncle to go retrieve his drug-dealing proceeds and bring the loot back to them if he wanted his nephew to live, police and prosecutors said.
The uncle, Sotero Gonzalez, testified at Brown's preliminary hearing last year that he and his nephew drove to a house "in a very peaceful area" of Lodi to sell Brown and a second man identified as Oswaldo Miranda 5 pounds of methamphetamine for $9,000.
Inside the house, Gonzalez said, the suspects offered beers to him and his nephew. The next thing he knew, "they hit me in the head with a gun," Gonzalez testified.
Gonzalez identified Brown as one of the two suspects. He said he went to his home in Atwater and got $30,000 in cash from beneath his bed. He said he brought the money back to the two robbers, but that by the time he returned, his nephew was unconscious.
Jorge Gonzalez had been hogtied from his neck to his feet and a plastic bag had been wrapped around his head, investigators said. A coroner ruled his cause of death to be asphyxiation by a ligature strangulation and suffocation.
Sotero Gonzalez testified Brown and the man identified as Miranda forced him to load his nephew's body into the trunk of his car and get rid of it. Gonzalez said he drove the car to a shopping center in Turlock where he abandoned it. The body was later discovered there by police.
A Sacramento Superior Court jury last year convicted Brown and two other defendants of murder in the Jan. 3, 2006, Land Park shooting death of James Laskey Ramirez, 18, in which Brown was the gunman. All three have since been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Judge Michael A. Savage gave Brown 544 additional years for his role in two violent drug robberies in which the victims were pistol-whipped and, in one instance, sexually abused.
Brown was sentenced to 11 more years in prison for the Gonzalez killing.
Deputy District Attorney Sean Laird could not be reached for comment Thursday. Brown's attorney, Alan Whisenand, said the plea gives his client a chance to go free "if his appeal is successful on the other matter."