3 men ordered to stand trial in murder of Navy sailor

SAN DIEGO — Three men accused in the shooting death of a young Navy man who was gunned down after pulling over on a Logan Heights freeway ramp to help a seemingly stranded driver were ordered Monday to stand trial on murder and other charges.

Brothers Edson Acuna, 25, and Brandon Acuna, 21, are accused along with Harvey Liberato, 25, in the Oct. 27, 2018, slaying of 21-year-old Curtis Adams, who was shot to death on the connector ramp between southbound state Route 15 and northbound Interstate 5.

Edson Acuna is charged as the gunman, while his brother and Liberato are charged as active participants in the killing. The trio face charges of murder, with special circumstance allegations of committing the killing in the commission of a burglary. They also faces numerous other charges of burglary, firing on an inhabited home, and firearm possession.

Prosecutors allege the trio took part in a vehicle burglary outside a Mt. Hope home, which resulted in Edson Acuna allegedly engaging in a shootout with the homeowner. No one was struck by the gunfire, though at least one of the tires on Edson Acuna’s Toyota Camry was shot out, according to prosecutors.

The men, along with 39-year-old Susana Galvan, sped away from the scene in the Camry, but eventually pulled over on the freeway due to the flat tire, prosecutors said.

While driving through southeast San Diego shortly before 2:30 a.m. Oct. 27, the victim and his girlfriend came upon the parked car and decided to stop and offer assistance, homicide Lt. Anthony Dupree said.

Prosecutors allege that Brandon Acuna told the others, “That’s him!” possibly in belief that the homeowner had followed them onto the freeway.

Moments after Adams stepped out of his vehicle, Edson Acuna allegedly opened fire, killing him, then drove off.

Brandon Acuna, Galvan and Liberato were arrested within days of the shooting, while Edson Acuna was arrested in December in Mexico.

The men, who are each being held without bail, are due back in court May 22 for a Superior Court arraignment. Galvan pleaded guilty last week to being an accessory after the fact and is slated to be sentenced in June.

Adams, a Brooklyn native, enlisted in the Navy in 2016. At the time of his death, he was a steelworker with Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

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