A husband and wife have been charged in the killing of Southern California musician Toko Tasi, who was gunned down outside a bar in Long Beach this month, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Thomas Neri Arellaga Jr., 43, faces a murder charge with the allegation he used a handgun, while 43-year-old Lorna Santos Clemena was charged with being an accessory after the fact, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Monday, officials said.
Arellaga was allegedly engaged in an argument with the 45-year-old hip-hop artist before opening fire outside a bar on the 400 block of West Willow Street the night of Aug. 10.
The musician, whose real name is Tasi Malaki, was struck multiple times in his upper torso and died at the scene, according to police.
Clemena was with her husband at the bar and they both left after the shooting, the DA’s office said.
Investigators were searching for the gunman about a week before the pair was arrested in Hesperia on Aug. 16.
A search warrant served at the couple’s Long Beach home, on the 2400 block of San Francisco Avenue, turned up evidence related to the killing, detectives said.
Friends of Malaki’s who attended a vigil in his honor last week told KTLA they were celebrating a high school reunion when the gunshots rang out.
“Before that, we were all just inside laughing and hugging each other, and saying ‘I love you’ and catching up,” Audra Viscidi said.
Officials have yet to announce a motive in the killing.
Arellaga could face up to 50 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, and Clemena faces three years in prison, prosecutors said.
Inmate records show Arellaga was being held on $3 million bail and scheduled to return to court Sept. 11. Clemena’s bond was set at $1 million.