1 of 2 brothers accused in Navy man's slaying pleads guilty

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Photo of 21-year-old Navy sailor Curtis Adams, courtesy of his family.

SAN DIEGO — One of two brothers accused in the shooting death of a Navy man who was gunned down after stopping to help a seemingly stranded driver on a Logan Heights freeway ramp pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter.

Brandon Acuna, 22, is slated to be sentenced to 13 years in state prison on March 13 for his role 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.

The alleged shooter — Acuna’s brother, Edson, 25, — awaits trial next month on a first-degree murder charge, and faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Two other co-defendants, Harvey Liberato, 25, and Susana Galvan, 39, have also pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors allege the group 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 defendants 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 Adams, then drove off.

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

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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