A man who worked as a clerk for the Contra Costa County public defender’s office last year has been charged with murder.
William M. Edwards Jr., 38, was charged Friday in the shooting death of Taison Calderon-Lopez on June 1. Edwards mistook Calderon-Lopez for a witness who was allegedly going to testify against Edwards’ fellow gang members, according to prosecutors.
Authorities told the East Bay Times, which first reported the charges, that the intended victim was working with police trying to build an attempted murder case against two alleged gang members.
The newspaper reported that Edwards pleaded no contest to manslaughter 12 years ago for shooting a key witness in an Oakland murder case. While serving 15 years in prison, the Times reported, Edwards earned a paralegal certificate.
In 2016, he was hired by the public defender’s office as a temporary clerk. Chief Public Defender Robin Lipetzky told the East Bay Times that Edwards was hired “through a recommendation from a community-based organization that works with formerly incarcerated persons and trains them for employment readiness.”
Edwards reportedly left the office last October. Lipetzky did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Los Angeles Times.
The night before Calderon-Lopez was shot, Edwards, identified as a Ghost Town gang member, allegedly talked about killing the witness in a phone conversation with a gang associate, according to the criminal complaint.
At about 7:30 a.m. the next day, after parking his car down the street, Edwards allegedly walked up to Calderon-Lopez as he was leaving his home for work and shot him four times in the chest.
In August, after learning he was a suspect in Calderon-Lopez’s slaying, Edwards, with the help of an accomplice, attempted to obtain false identification documents so he could leave the state and elude capture, authorities allege.