Police determine suspected conspirators in Achilli slaying – The Mercury Information

Six months ago, Esequiel “Paul” Garcia and Mark Achilli were celebrating together on the back deck of Mountain Charley’s, hoisting shots of Don Julio, Achilli’s favorite tequila.

Garcia had just bought the bar and the 180 Restaurant & Lounge – two popular Los Gatos watering holes – from the even more popular man-about-town.

Today, Garcia, a striving 29-year-old businessman, is behind bars along with one of his bouncers and two others – booked on charges that they conspired to have the 53-year-old Achilli executed in his driveway.

The arrests, made over the last five days, broke open the brazen March 14 shooting that shell-shocked the small town. Although police Monday refused to discuss a motive for the killing, in addition to their business relationship, Achilli and Garcia also dated the same woman within the past year. But Garcia’s attorney denied there were business or romantic issues between the two men.

“There was no bad blood or bad feeling related to either the business or anybody they both knew mutually,” Harry A. Robertson said.

Arrested with Garcia were Daniel Chaidez, 23, of San Jose, a bouncer at Mountain Charley’s; Miguel Chaidez, 22, of Duarte; and Lucio Estrada, 24, of Burbank. Police say the three are cousins. They have all been booked on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder – creating a potential death penalty case.

Estrada, identified as Achilli’s shooter, is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail. His arraignment date is so far unscheduled. Held without bail, the other three are expected to be arraigned at Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on Wednesday.

Police tight-lipped

Los Gatos Police Chief Scott Seaman revealed little about the investigation at a news conference Monday. Seaman would not say what evidence linked the four suspects to the killing. He lauded the cooperation his department received from San Jose and Santa Clara police and the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations among others.

Michele Achilli, Achilli’s wife, along with her daughter and son quietly watched the announcement.

“This does not bring peace,” she said. “There is not going to be any peace.”

Not much was known Monday about Garcia. He graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory in 1996 and was a freshman football coach at his alma mater for the past eight years. Garcia also owns a real estate business.

Garcia, a native of Santa Clara County, has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University, and an MBA from the University of San Francisco, according to his Web site, which appeared to be inactive late Monday.

After the press conference, Garcia’s attorney, Robertson, said his client had never been previously arrested or charged with any criminal activity. He said his client was well-liked and respected.

“He is an accused citizen. He is presumed to be innocent,” Robertson said. He added any charges would be “vigorously defended.”

“Paul denies any involvement in the tragic death of Mr. Achilli,” Robertson said. “Mr. Garcia immediately cooperated with the Los Gatos Police Department within hours of the incident. He spoke at length with detectives and cooperated with them. He denied then and continues to deny knowledge of the incident.”

Loading up boxes

At Garcia’s real estate business, inside a white office building near Interstate 880 on The Alameda in San Jose, men who identified themselves only as “movers” and others were going into and out of the back door, loading boxes of papers, bags and other materials into a truck. When asked about Garcia’s case, they declined comment.

Achilli was shot several times with a handgun outside his Los Gatos townhome as he was leaving for a lunch appointment. It was the city’s first homicide in five years.

Achilli had been a fixture on the town’s main strip for many years. He owned Mountain Charley’s for seven years and 180 Restaurant & Lounge for 2 1/2 years. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral last week.

Garcia bought Mountain Charley’s and the 180 in September. The two men have also dated the same woman at various times, according to Achilli’s friends and one former employee.

No one came to the door Monday at Garcia’s parents’ home. But a nearby neighbor who knows the family well but didn’t want his name used said, “They’ve got the wrong guy,” saying Garcia was a “good person.”

Former neighbors at a San Jose home where Garcia used to live but currently rents out say he mostly kept to himself – except when reporting other neighbors for code violations including grass that was too long and a basketball hoop that was hanging into the street.

Garcia was not very friendly, Lesley Forbes said.

Casey Forbes said Garcia was “never off his cell phone” when he was outside. “A cell phone was always next to his ear.”

Those close to Achilli reacted with anger to the arrests.

“How could someone put such little value on life?” said Sue Farwell, who was Achilli’s close friend and business partner in the bars. “It’s just sickening.”

Mike Downing, another close friend and bar manager at Carry Nations, where Achilli used to bartend, said his deep sadness had morphed to anger.

“It’s so meaningless that it drives you nuts,” Downing said. “To put a face to it, I don’t know, it still just doesn’t make sense.”

Pat Otero, who sold Achilli his home at 18400 Overlook Road, said, “If I’d known they were going to do this to Mark I would have sold him a fortress. The arrest of these four criminals certainly won’t bring him back, but now he can rest in peace.”

“I’m really glad they got the guys,” said Roger Copolillo, the owner of Bunches Flowers and a friend of Achilli’s. “What were they thinking? How did they expect to get away with this? They’ve ruined the lives of all of Mark’s friends and family. They’ve ruined their lives, too, but I don’t care about that.”

Mercury News Staff Writer Leslie Griffy and Bay Area News Group Writer Judy Peterson contributed to this report. Contact Sean Webby at or (408) 920-5003.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button