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Former East Palo Alto man held to answer charges in 2011 killing

Christian Fuentes is one of three suspects in Menlo Park teen Cate Fisher's death

A man charged with the 2011 murder of 19-year-old Cate Fisher of Menlo Park in East Palo Alto was held to answer on all charges in a preliminary hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Christian Fuentes, 28, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges on Jan. 17 after he was extradited to San Mateo County from Colorado in September of last year, Wagstaffe said.

His Superior Court arraignment will be on Oct. 23.

Fuentes was initially arraigned on Sept. 18, 2018, on charges of murder, attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, being a felon in possession of a firearm, driving or taking a vehicle without consent and driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license, according to the DA's office.

Fisher, 19, was a college student who had graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School and was an instructor at Menlo Park Gymnastics Center.

At 2 a.m. on July 13, 2011, she was sitting in a Chevrolet Tahoe parked in a driveway in the 2500 block of Annapolis Street in East Palo Alto with a man and another woman when three people, one of whom was later identified as Fuentes, allegedly pulled up next to them in another vehicle.

Two of them got out of the car and began shooting a 9mm firearm and .40-caliber rounds at the Chevrolet.

Investigators later determined the incident to be a "gang execution shooting," but that Fisher, who had no gang ties, was not the target of the shooting, according to prosecutors.

Fisher was struck multiple times by the gunfire and was pronounced dead at Stanford Hospital.

The two other occupants of the Chevrolet were not hit by bullets, police said at the time. The two alleged shooters left the scene for Colorado.

The other suspected shooter in the incident, Jaime Cardenas, was arrested in Mexico and turned over to authorities in Colorado where he will be prosecuted on separate crimes before he's extradited back to San Mateo County, Wagstaffe previously told Palo Alto Online.

The driver in the case is still in Mexico, he said.

Fuentes faces a sentence of life without the possibility of parole and is being held without bail.

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Rick Radin writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

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