Crime

Fatal gang initiation stabbing lands fourth man in court

Suspect arraigned for fatal gang initiation stabbing in Tacoma

Jose Juan Gaitan Vasquez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at arraignment Wednesday. He's accused of fatally stabbing 25-year-old Samuel Cruces-Vazquez in Tacoma April 28, 2016. Three other people have also been charged for the homicide.
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Jose Juan Gaitan Vasquez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at arraignment Wednesday. He's accused of fatally stabbing 25-year-old Samuel Cruces-Vazquez in Tacoma April 28, 2016. Three other people have also been charged for the homicide.

A man accused of fatally stabbing a man as part of a gang initiation in Tacoma was in court Wednesday.

Juan Jose Gaitan Vasquez, 26, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court. He recently was extradited from California.

He and three others have been charged for the death of Samuel Cruces-Vazquez, 25.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set Gaitan’s bail at $3 million.

Also awaiting trial in the homicide are Cesar Chicas Carballo, 30; and Jose Ayala Reyes, 25, who were previously arraigned. Prosecutors last month charged Edenilson Misael Alfaro, 23, who is in custody in California in a different homicide.

Charging papers give this account of the Tacoma killing:

Cruces-Vazquez died after he was found stabbed and possibly run over outside his car April 28, 2016, in the 7800 block of South Trafton Street.

Investigators said Gaitan stabbed him in the neck and back of the head from the rear seat of the car,. The other three charged were involved in the homicide as well, prosecutors said.

Because Gaitan is from El Salvador, Commissioner Foley asked him Wednesday if he’d like his consular officers to be notified about his situation. He said he would.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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