Kretchmar case concludes
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 23:02
After more than three years in custody, the man accused of shooting and killing two young men, including a Contra Costa College student, in a Pinole park pleaded guilty.
Daniel Ruiz, a 28-year-old San Pablo resident, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Jan. 23 in Martinez for two counts of murder, Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove said.
Pinole Detective Sgt. Matt Messier said 18-year-old David Gregory, along with two others, was walking through Fernandez Park in Pinole the afternoon of July 30, 2005 in a red shirt when Ruiz, who was at a barbecue, saw him.
An "extremely violent (Sureño) gang member," Messier said, Ruiz mistook Gregory for a rival gang member because of the color of his shirt.
Ruiz left the barbecue and confronted the three walking through the park and shot at them leaving two dead and one wounded.
Gregory, at the time a recent Hercules High School graduate, was pronounced dead at the scene and CCC student Darren Kretchmar, 21, died later that night at John Muir Medical Center in Martinez. Richard Male, who was walking with Gregory and Kretchmar, survived with gunshot wounds in his upper body.
After the shooting, Ruiz fled the park and was later caught hiding in a backyard in Pinole, Messier said.
"It was senseless," Messier said. "Because he was wearing a red shirt, that's the only reason he shot and killed David Gregory and Darren Kretchmar."
After his arrest, Ruiz was charged with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder, Grove said.
Three years later, Ruiz confessed and pleaded guilty to the murders, earning a life sentence for each.
Had the case gone to trial and Ruiz been convicted of the killings, he would have faced the possibility of the death penalty, Grove said.
"Death penalty or not, (Ruiz) is definitely going to die in prison," Messier said.
Grove said the county is safer without Ruiz in it and the plea was a better end than a trial.
He said both Kretchmar and Gregory's families felt better with Ruiz entering a plea and putting him in prison for life than a long, drawn-out trial.
Contact Brett Abel at firstname.lastname@example.org.