A local couple arrested by police last week in connection with the shooting death of rapper Lil Yase in Dublin in November has been released from custody after Alameda County prosecutors declined to file formal charges against the pair for evidentiary reasons.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office had not responded for a request for comment to date, but Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt confirmed prosecutors' decision late Monday morning.
"The DA declined to charge either of our suspects at this time. Our detectives will continue to move forward with the case in hopes of developing additional evidence," Schmidt told the Weekly.
Prosecutors generally have to file a criminal complaint in court against a person within 48 hours of their arrest in order to keep them in custody in that case.
The high burden of proof and the 2019 change to California's felony murder law were among the key factors for the DA's office decision, according to Schmidt.
"Our hopes were pretty high with getting the DNA from that casing," Schmidt said. "We had plenty of evidence to arrest them, but the DA has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt."
It is unclear whether the arrestees, Angel Butler and Jovante Williams, are yet represented by an attorney. They were released from the Santa Rita Jail after prosecutors declined to file charges as of last Thursday.
Dublin Police Services arrested Butler and Williams -- both 28-year-old Dublin residents -- without incident last Tuesday on suspicion of murder after a five-month investigation led detectives to identify the couple as their prime suspects in the shooting death of Lil Yase, according to Schmidt.
Lil Yase -- a rising Bay Area rapper whose legal name was Mark Antonyyo Alexander Jr. -- arrived at Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare hospital in Pleasanton around 1 a.m. Nov. 28 with serious injuries after being shot multiple times, police said. Subsequent investigation revealed the shooting occurred in the 5100 block of Iron Horse Parkway near the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station that night.
Lil Yase was soon transferred to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where he died from his traumatic injuries later that morning. The San Francisco native was 26 years old.
The circumstances of the killing, including who pulled the trigger, remained very unclear as the investigation unfolded that first weekend, although Lil Yase did provide some information in what was ultimately a dying declaration, Schmidt said.
Continued investigation of phone and social media records, as well as processing of DNA evidence, allegedly led to detectives identifying Williams and Butler as the prime suspects in the case.
A love triangle could have been at play, according to police.
Butler and Williams live together with their child in an apartment complex close to where the shooting occurred, according to Schmidt. Meanwhile, Butler and Lil Yase had a prior relationship that appeared to be maybe still ongoing, which is why Lil Yase was visiting Dublin, the captain said.
A key turning point in the investigation occurred recently when DNA found on a shell casing was determined to be a match for the suspects' toddler child, according to Schmidt. But prosecutors deemed more evidence is needed to secure a conviction, in part because of the change in California law 2-1/2 years ago for felony murder and the need for proof of intent to kill for those responsible for a homicide.
"Basically, 'she can point at him and he can point at her' is how it was explained to us," the captain said.
Schmidt said he has confidence Dublin detectives will be successful in continuing to "push forward and find that next piece of evidence, for the family of the victim." He also pointed out there is no statute of limitations for a homicide investigation.