Final defendant has court date in spree of robberies, assaults

In what prosecutors are calling “a savage series of crimes,” the last of six teenagers arrested in a string of random beatings and robberies in Menlo Park appeared in court Monday.

Retired Commissioner Joseph Gruber set Sipukako Tony Vailala’s bail at $50,000 in the case. Vailala, 18, remains in San Mateo County jail along with his codefendants, 18-year-olds John Mahe, Malakai Mataele and Holomesi Tuineau. A 14-year-old and a 17-year-old remain in juvenile hall. All of the teens have pleaded not guilty.

Each faces three counts of robbery, one count of commercial burglary and three counts of felony assault — charges that carry up to 10 years in state prison for the adults in the case.

Prosecutors say the East Palo Alto teens began their crime spree Feb. 24 in the parking lot of a Menlo Park Safeway, where they allegedly beat a security guard.

Next, they allegedly attacked a 63-year-old man, leaving him hospitalized with a blood clot on the brain and a fractured nose, eye socket and jaw.

“It’s just a pack of wolves mentality” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Prosecutors believe the group then spotted a 37-year-old man and attacked him, stealing his cell phone. The victim suffered severe cuts and bruises. He was treated at Stanford Hospital and released.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read