While the fate of five suspects linked to a
home invasion of the worst kind
remains murky, at least one fact is clear five months after
burglars tied up, tortured and threatened Gilroyan Gary Wise with
murder inside his home on Rucker Avenue: The 59-year-old is mad as
hell, and tired of waiting for his alleged attackers to be
sentenced. Full story
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Today’s breaking news:
While the fate of five suspects linked to a “home invasion of the worst kind” remains murky, at least one fact is clear five months after burglars tied up, tortured and threatened Gilroyan Gary Wise with murder inside his home on Rucker Avenue: The 59-year-old is mad as hell and tired of waiting for his alleged attackers to be sentenced.
“He has a hard time hearing. He can’t see out of his eyes good. They damaged him forever. The doctors can’t fix him,” said Wise’s friend on Tuesday inside the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill, who declined to give her name. “They need to keep people like that locked up.”
Following the May 3 arrest of five suspects – plus one minor involved with the Feb. 6 break-in of Wise’s residence on the 1000 block of Rucker Avenue – Tuesday’s 1:30 p.m. court appearance marked the fourth plea hearing for Juvenal Reyes, 62; Juan Fonseca, 21; Ernesto Gonzalez, 25; Norberto Serna, 41; and Danny Rivera, 22. The first hearing was held May 17, which Wise attended. The second was held June 14; the third July 12; and the fourth Sept. 6. The five adult suspects are all in custody.
For the fifth time, Judge Andrea Flint granted a joint request on Tuesday for all five suspects to have their hearings delayed to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 18, on the grounds that the public defenders need more time to adequately prepare for case hearings.
Upon hearing this, Wise demonstratively stormed out of the courtroom, followed by a small posse of supporters.
“We all empathize with him. We feel pretty strongly. We don’t want him to feel left out, or on his own,” said Darryl Johnson, who belongs to the modest group of six to seven friends, family and neighbors who accompanied Wise.
Wise and his supporters did not refrain from stifling their outrage during Tuesday’s hearing. A web of profanities emitted from their corner of the courtroom, including comments such as “hang them,” “stab them in the throat,” “let them bleed to death” and “I know enough people in prison that will get the job done.”
Audience members turned curiously in their seats, although court officials did not intervene. The five defendants remained stone-faced and rarely shifted their gazes, save for Rivera – who on several occasions flashed a vapid glance in Wise’s direction. Previously jet black in pictures snapped several months ago, ringleader Reyes’ hair is now tinted a silver gray.
“I wish I had heard something,” said Johnson, who was home at the time of the attack. “The neighborhood had no problems until Reyes moved in.”
Johnson is one of the few insiders to openly discuss the case thus far. Family spokesman and Wise’s nephew Tim Bowers, who has commented briefly in the past and was present Tuesday, rushed out the door behind his uncle.
Johnson, a Gilroy/Morgan Hill resident of two decades who’s lived on the 900 block of Rucker Avenue for nearly 14 years, said assailant Juvenal Reyes moved into the neighborhood three years ago.
Johnson chats at the mailbox occasionally with Wise, who feels “mostly anger” toward the group of burglars who broke into his home, beat him to near death and ransacked his house after making away with a hoard of goods. This included roughly 75 collectible firearms, rifle scopes, binoculars and more than $20,000. The assailants also took more than $50,000 in casino chips, other gaming currency, pins, buckles and stamps – although one burglar, Serna, did not receive any portion of the stolen items, according to reports.
The home invasion case is marked by a lengthy list of chronological events that continues to amass, including a sweeping string of search warrants and arrests that started at 6:30 a.m. May 3. Detectives later located a significant cache of stolen property the morning of May 25, when deputies conducted a search of suspect Ernesto Gonzalez’s apartment unit in west San Jose and discovered several secret compartments hidden beneath the carpeted floor. The stashed items included more than 20 handguns, 40 rifles and various collectibles, some of which belonged to and were returned to Wise.
As for the evening the crime was committed, detailed court documents illuminate the night Wise arrived at his home around 9 p.m. Feb. 6 when three male suspects ambushed him. The suspects then tied him up and tortured him in an effort to learn the combination to a safe, pouring chemical substances over his body and face and beating him with pool cues until he lost consciousness.
Wise was beaten again after he came to, according to court records. Seven hours passed until he was able to free himself and run to his neighbor’s house to report the incident to authorities.
Wise’s neighbor, a woman named Rose who would only give her first name, was jarred awake at about 5 a.m. the morning following the attack by loud knocking. She opened the back door to see Wise standing on her porch; his head covered in blood and his clothes hanging loosely from his body.
“He said, “I’ve been beat up,'” she told the Dispatch on Feb. 7.
She described Wise as “a kind-hearted man.”
Reports state the suspects also made off with Wise’s personal collections including various guns, stamps, coins and playing cards, in addition to stealing the victim’s truck and subsequently abandoning it near Highways 9 and 35 outside Saratoga.
Even more frightening, said Johnson, is that Wise – who is separated from his wife who lives in Gilroy – almost brought his son home to the Rucker house that night. Johnson estimates Wise’s son is between 9 and 12 years old.
Since the incident, Johnson remarked Wise frequents his home during the day, but departs at nightfall because “he doesn’t want to stay there.”
Named as an instigator in court documents, reports state Reyes did not partake in the break-in as he “grew leery” of suspects Gonzalez, Serna and Fonseca over time, fearing they would steal property from him as well.
Reyes later confronted the three about “why they had to beat up Wise in the manner that they did.” He expressed “remorse” for his role in the incident, but maintained “it was only supposed to be a burglary committed under cover of darkness” when Wise was not at home, according to court documents.
Calling Reyes the liaison “for all the bad guys from San Jose,” Johnson said he had been “continuously at war” with Reyes over altercations such as zoning law infractions, illegal dumping and unsolved thefts.
“He and I have been at it for a long time,” said Johnson, adding the Rucker neighborhood was always a safe, nice place “with no problems until Reyes moved in.”
Citing an absentee landlord who ignored issues arising at Reyes’ residence, “we now we have to deal with the repercussions,” Johnson said.
Since the Rucker incident, new charges were also brought forth against Gonzalez in June. These stem from a separate burglary incident in Sunnyvale, according to Troy Benson, deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County who said the charges involve other stolen property, including guns.
“It’s just wrong on all levels,” said Johnson, reflecting on the heinous crime that’s splashed his otherwise peaceful neighborhood in unincorporated Santa Clara County across TV and newspaper headlines. “It will be interesting to watch the wheels of justice turn.”
Rucker home invasion: Arrested and charged; still no pleas, convictions or sentences
The home invasion, brutal assault and robbery of a Gilroy resident occurred around 9 p.m. Feb. 6 on the 900 block of Rucker Avenue. A string of search warrants, followed by six arrests, were made May 3 in the cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose.
– Juvenal Reyes, 62, of the 900 block of Rucker Avenue, was arrested on $500,000 bail and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and torture.
– Juan Fonseca, 21, of the 3800 block of Williams Road in San Jose, arrested on $500,000 bail and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and torture.
– Ernesto Gonzalez, 25, of the 3800 block of Williams Road in San Jose, arrested without bail and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and torture.
– Norberto Serna, 41, of the 100 block of Miramonte Avenue in Morgan Hill, arrested without bail and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and torture.
n Danny Rivera, 22, of the 2900 block of Park Lane in San Jose, arrested on $150,000 bail and charged with possession of stolen property.
– One juvenile, whose name was not released, was also arrested.
– Serna is represented by Maureen Baldwin, Rivera is represented by Deanna Burneikis, Reyes is represented by Tammy Miller, Gonzalez is represented by Irma Gallardo and Fonseca is represented by Jessica Delgado, according to court documents.