East Bay man known as ‘Red Beard’ guilty of murder, jury rejects self-defense argument

SAN LORENZO — An Alameda County jury convicted a San Leandro man of murder and other felonies in connection with a 2018 shooting that he claimed was self-defense.

R. Zacharia Grubbs, 47, was convicted of fist degree murder in the June 2018 drive-by shooting of 35-year-old Andre Margain. He was also convicted of shooting in to an inhabited dwelling that was struck by a stray bullet, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The verdict was returned Sept. 1, after a day of deliberations. Grubbs faces a sentence of 25 years to life on the murder charge alone.

Margain was shot and killed June 7, 2018, as he drove a motorcycle down the 16000 block of Bayberry Lane in San Lorenzo. Grubbs was identified as Margain’s killer in part because of his distinctive long, red beard and corresponding nickname, “Red Beard.” During trial, he admitted to fatally shooting Margain but testified Margain appeared to be grabbing for a pistol.

Deputy district attorney Luis Marin, who prosecuted the case, argued to jurors that it was obvious Grubbs simply concocted the self-defense story because he had no other options. When Marin cross-examined Grubbs, he got him to admit that he made statements about wanting to “get” Margain just days before fatally shooting him, and read back text messages where Grubbs threatened to maim and murder another person.

Grubbs said under oath that a week earlier, Margain had robbed him of meth, cash, and guns after apparently trailing him to a trailer park. The two were methamphetamine dealers in the San Leandro area who went to the same supplier, Grubbs testified. He said after the shooting he realized Margain was unarmed, then got scared and threw his pistol in Lake Chabot.

“Mr. Grubbs didn’t have but an instant to make these decisions…when you judge the reasonableness of Mr. Grubbs’ actions, you have to judge the reasonableness in that moment,” Grubbs’ attorney, deputy public defender Palden Ukyab, argued to jurors Aug. 31.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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Author: Nate Gartrell