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DIGGING DEEPER: Charges dropped in road rage incident

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TUCSON (KVOA) - It was a road rage incident that turned deadly. It happened last March at Valencia Road and Interstate 19.

Rudy Vega a passenger in the back seat was shot and killed. The shooter was charged with manslaughter.

The Digging Deeper Team has learned that the Vega family recently met with the county attorney's office and weren't pleased with the outcome.

The family is outraged. They said they walked out of the meeting on Monday with Laura Conover after learning the suspected shooter David Rivera won't be facing any charges.

Patricia Coronado is Vegas' aunt she said, "Rudy Vega was fatally murdered on March 4.  Today we went in and talked to the Pima County Attorney's office and my nephew was murdered again with no legal justice in his favor."

It's reported Vega was in the back seat of the car when he was shot. Another aunt, Monique Islavas said, County Attorney Laura Conover told them David Rivera "felt fearful because he saw a flash, of what could've been a gun. Then David also stated he was positive it was a gun. " 

The News 4 Digging Deeper Team requested an interview with the County Attorney. They sent a statement that said in part:

"After extensive and careful review of available evidence, the Pima County Attorney's office (PCOA) has declined to charge David Rivera."

News 4 Tucson obtained police reports that said, "David stated he feared for his life and grabbed a handgun he had next to him and fired at the male with the gun." Rivera also told police that "the male in the front passenger seat produced a silver gun and pointed it at him."

However, in the vehicle, Rudy Vega was in, the driver told police,"...there were no guns inside the car and none of them owned a firearm."

The police report also stated, "No firearm was recovered in the Suburban..."

A week after the shooting, police wrote Homicide charges will be presented at the issuing appointment on March 11. The statement said the Pima County Attorney's office went through various steps before making a decision such as In May a senior prosecutor concluded they should not prosecute

PCOA homicide panel also weighed in.

Finally, PCOA's Appeals Unit Chief reviewed the incident.

Ultimately, Arizona's self-defense laws placed the burden on prosecutors to prove the accused person was not acting in self-defense.

Vega's mother, Melanie Montoya, said she is furious with the County Attorney.

"He had no right to kill my son. She knows that he killed my son, but she is defending him," Montoya said. "She shouldn't be defending a murderer.  She should be the voice of my son Rudy Vega."

Also in the statement, County Attorney Laura Conover said, "We are heartbroken over their loss. We are so sorry for their pain. PCOA can only operate under the legal framework as it exists."

The family said they will continue to seek justice for Rudy, so his death won't be in vain.

To access the full PCAO statement, click the link below:

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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