Lovers convicted in execution-style double murder

Two former lovers were each convicted Tuesday of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges for the execution-style fatal shooting of two 18-year-olds in Hayward five years ago.

Jurors deliberated for only three hours before announcing their verdict against 22-year-old Tiara Arnold and 25-year-old Isaiah Washington, who are from Oakland, for the shooting deaths of Rafael Avila and Carlos Buenrostro, both of Hayward, in the 21600 block of Westpark Street at about 1 a.m. on May 9, 2010.

Arnold and Washington were also convicted of attempted murder for shots that were fired at a 16-year-old girl who was with them at the time of the shooting and of the special circumstances of committing multiple murders and committing murders during the course of a robbery.

Prosecutor Jimmie Wilson told jurors that he believes the evidence shows that Arnold fired the 21 shots from an AK-47 assault rifle that killed Avila and Buentrostro but he thinks Washington was equally guilty because he planned to rob the two 18-year-olds, who he said were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Wilson said he believes Washington ordered Arnold to kill the 18-year-olds as well as the 16-year-old girl who was with them so there wouldn’t be any witnesses to any of their crimes. Wilson said Avila and Buenrostro were lying face down when they were shot and the 16-year-old girl, who survived the attempt on her life, testified that the gunfire was so forceful that their bodies bounced off the concrete.

Wilson said Arnold and Washington were in love with each other and “he was telling her what to do and she’s doing it.” Washington was 21 years old at the time of the incident and Arnold was only 17 years old but she was prosecuted as an adult.

The defense attorneys for Arnold and Washington both said their client should be found not guilty, with Arnold’s attorney blaming Washington for the fatal shooting and Washington’s attorney blaming Arnold. Washington’s attorney, William Linehan, admitted that Washington “is no angel” and has a previous conviction for robbery but said Washington didn’t intend for Avila and Buenrostro to be killed.

Lineham alleged that Arnold acted on her own when she shot Avila and Buenrostro. Linehan said Washington hid his face when a car drove by the shooting scene because “he just saw the person he loved brutally kill two men.”

But, Arnold’s attorney, Eliott Silver, said if Arnold actually fired the shots that killed the two victims it was only because she was under duress since Washington was carrying the assault rifle and was ordering her around. Silver said Arnold’s actions were “reasonable” because “nobody is going to fight with a man who has an AK-47 in his hand.”

Silver also said he thinks there is reasonable doubt about whether Arnold fired the shots that killed the two victims because testimony from the woman who was 16 years old at the time of the incident and was with Washington and Arnold when the shooting occurred is unreliable.

Silver said the woman testified at one point that Arnold was the last person she saw holding the AK-47 before shots were fired at Avila and Buenrostro but under cross-examination she said she didn’t know who was holding the gun when the shots rang out.

According to the attorneys in the case, Washington and Arnold were lovers at the time of the shooting but have since broken up. Arnold and Washington both face life in prison without the possibility of parole when they’re sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy on May 4.