Teens to stand trial in Highway 101 murder

Two teenagers charged with fatally shooting a 25-year-old man on U.S. Highway 101 in Burlingame because of suspected road rage last September were held to answer on all charges Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court.

A preliminary hearing was held for Mohammad Rabah, 19, and Doyal Malcolm Webber, 19, who are charged in the death of San Mateo resident Lon Dell Wilson, who was shot once in the chest while driving north on Highway 101 near the Broadway overpass at about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 30, 2007. Wilson's silver 1990 Honda Accord then crashed and landed in a ditch at the side of the highway. He died at San Francisco General Hospital shortly thereafter.

Mohammad's brother, Mohmoud Rabah, 18, is believed to have been a passenger in the car his brother Mohammad Rabah was driving when Webber, another passenger, fired a gun and killed Wilson, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Webber was arrested Oct. 25, 2007, and Mohammad Rabah on Jan. 24 this year. The two were charged with murder and were set to go to trial in July, according to Wagstaffe. However, Mohmoud Rabah was arrested the day a trial was set to begin for his brother and Webber. The District Attorney's Office then re-filed murder charges to include all three defendants.

The defendants are each charged with one count murder with a special circumstance of murder involving a moving car, which carries a possible life sentence without parole.

Webber is charged with firearm use in the murder, and the Rabah brothers are both charged with witness intimidation, according to Wagstaffe.   

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty and were set for a preliminary hearing today, but Mohmoud Rabah was granted a continuance last week and will appear in court Oct. 29 to set a new date for his preliminary hearing. His attorney has asked for additional time to prepare for the case, as he was only recently arrested.

Deputy District Attorney Joseph Cannon today presented three witnesses as family members of Rabah, Webber and Wilson observed.   

Cannon called Burlingame police Inspector Charles Witt, Burlingame police Officer Daniel Dower and Burlingame police Inspector Robert Cissna as witnesses.

Witt's testimony recounted interviews with one of the witnesses, Zena Darwish, who testified during a preliminary hearing held in May for the initial charges filed against Mohammad Rabah and Webber.

Witt testified that Darwish told him she was a passenger in a teal Oldsmobile that was the front car of a three-car caravan driving from East Palo Alto to San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2007.

Witt testified that Darwish indicated there were two other vehicles in the caravan that she identified during the May preliminary
hearing as a maroon Chevrolet Caprice and a white Buick Skylark.

Darwish said the white Skylark was driven by Jose Morellos and the Caprice by Mohammad Rabah, according to Witt's testimony. Witt said Darwish indicated another man, whom she knew as “Ali” and whom she later identified as Webber, was also in the Caprice.

Witt testified that Darwish said the caravan drove past a gray or silver Honda Civic and observed the male driver staring at them. Darwish said there was an argument between people in Morellos' vehicle and the three vehicles in the caravan then surrounded the Honda.

Witt testified that Darwish told him she saw Webber leaning out of the side of the Caprice and heard four or five gunshots.

Witt also recounted interviews with the driver of the teal Oldsmobile, Luis Hernandez, who told Witt he heard gunshots as he was driving and pulled off the highway afterward so he and his passengers could check to see if they had been shot.

Hernandez was the first witness Witt said he was able to contact after the shooting, and Witt testified that Hernandez reported being
threatened by the Rabah brothers.

Witt said Hernandez reported having contact with the brothers in two instances, one of which was outside of a stereo store, where Mohammad Rabah told Hernandez he would “cap him” if he continued to speak with police, according to Witt's testimony.

Officer Dower testified that he had interviewed a woman who was driving a taxi on northbound Highway 101 about two car-lengths distance behind the three-car caravan on Sept. 30.

Dower said the woman described the three cars surrounding a gray car. Dower testified that the taxi driver said the three cars, each in show-quality condition with large rims, “boxed in” the gray vehicle.

Dower testified that the witness reported seeing an occupant in the rear right side of the third vehicle lean out of the vehicle and fire
four or five shots.

Defense attorneys Ian Loveseth and Kevin Nowack cross-examined Dower, concentrating on the taxi driver's description of which vehicle the shooter fired from. The witness apparently described the shooter's vehicle as white, while the prosecution has maintained that Webber fired from the maroon vehicle.

Investigator Cissna then testified that a fourth occupant in the maroon Caprice, Donald Reid, also known by friends as “Duck,” said he was in the rear left side of the vehicle driven by Mohammad Rabah, with Webber behind Mohmoud Rabah, who was in the passenger seat.

Cissna testified that Reid said he saw a gray vehicle in communication with the white Skylark when Mohammad produced a gun and pointed it upward.

Cissna testified that Reid said Webber grabbed the gun from Mohammad, reached out of the vehicle and shot four or five rounds at the gray vehicle.

Reid then witnessed Webber give the gun back to Mohammad Rabah, according to Cissna's testimony.

Reid later changed his story, according to the prosecution and defense, when he testified in the May preliminary hearing that Mohmoud Rabah was driving the Caprice.

Cissna also testified that Reid heard Mohammad tell Webber twice not to fire the gun because there were too many other cars around.

As the testimony came to an end late this afternoon, Judge Barbara Mallach asked Mohammad Rabah and Webber to stand.

Mallach ruled that there is sufficient evidence to hold both defendants to answer on all charges and special allegations and ordered them to return for Superior Court arraignment Oct. 2.

The Rabah brothers and Webber all remain in custody on no-bail status.

Bay City News Service

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