Pittsburg: Two convicted of first diploma homicide in 2017 capturing – Pacifica Tribune
MARTINEZ — Two East Contra Costa men were convicted of first degree murder Monday, in a 2017 shooting death prosecutors say was motivated by revenge.
Christova Topete, 27, and Sam Nazareta, 33, were convicted of murdering 20-year-old Joseph West, who was shot and killed in February 2017 behind the Atlantic Plaza Shopping Center in Pittsburg. Police identified Antioch resident Topete as the shooter and Pittsburg resident Nazareta as the man who ordered the killing.
West was shot and killed in the back parking lot of the shopping center, following a series of unlucky coincidences.
Prosecutors say that at the time of the shooting, Nazareta was working at a Good Will located a couple doors down from where West was getting a haircut. The two of them bumped into each other outside, and Nazareta allegedly recognized West as a man who’d stolen ounces of marijuana from him months earlier.
West also recognized Nazareta, and texted his girlfriend he’d was being watched by a man he “finessed” and that he felt uneasy about it. West tried to drive off, but his car wouldn’t start.
Hours later, West was standing near his car with his girlfriend and her mother, waiting for a mechanic they knew to try and get the engine running. That’s when prosecutors say Topete walked up, shot West several times, and fled the area.
The shooter was caught on surveillance footage, and could be seen wearing the same outfit Topete had been wearing when he entered a nearby McDonald’s earlier that day.
During trial, Nazareta’s attorney called the suspected motive “incredibly speculative” and said that Topete and Nazareta met up for a heroin deal, not to shoot someone.