Men found guilty of World Cup party murder

Josue Crook

Josh Cook was murdered outside a restaurant in National City following a World Cup viewing party.

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A man who fatally shot another man during a fight at a World Cup viewing party at a National City restaurant last year was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

A jury, after three days of deliberations, found Daniel Arce Gonzalez, 36, guilty of gunning down 36-year-old Josue Crook at the Rincon Del Mar restaurant on June 17, 2014.

A second defendant, 38-year-old Salvador Oswaldo Chavez, was convicted of second-degree murder in Crook’s death. Jurors also found Chavez guilty of assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing a second victim outside the restaurant on Highland Avenue.

Deputy District Attorney Melissa Diaz said the fight started when one person in the defendant’s group thought somebody in the victim’s group looked at him funny and started a fist fight.

The fight quickly escalated and Chavez stood guard when Gonzalez pulled out a handgun and shot Crook — a nursing assistant who had four children — multiple times in front of the restaurant where patrons had gathered to watch the Mexico-Brazil World Cup soccer match, Diaz said.

“Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Chavez acted as a team during the entire time that they were there, each looking out for one another, focusing on one another, assisting one another and helping one another during the entire murder and stabbing,”  Diaz said outside court.

Gonzalez was arrested in Tijuana on July 14, 2014, and returned to San Diego County to stand trial, which lasted almost two weeks in the courtroom of South Bay Judge Stephanie Sontag.

Gonzalez’s attorney, Jan Ronis, said he was shocked that his client was convicted of murder and not manslaughter, saying there was plenty of evidence that Gonzalez was defending himself.

Ronis said the evidence was “minuscule” against Chavez to secure a murder conviction.

Gonzalez faces 40 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28. Chavez faces a sentence of 15 years to life behind bars.

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