Sixth defendant in gagged murder case pleads not guilty


Prosecutors announced in late December that they were charging a sixth person, Catherine Uong, 26, for the death of Stephen Reid, 26, who was found tied up in the middle of the 900 block of Brussels Street in the city's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Dec. 9.

Uong, nicknamed "Killer," according to prosecutors, joined the other five suspects today in San Francisco Superior Court, where she pleaded not guilty to murder, robbery, fraudulent credit card activity and various assault and weapons charges.

Uong and fellow defendants Montrail Brackens, 21; Vincent Bell, 31; Heather Leach, 24; Maryann Manalastas, 22; and Tyler Miller, 19; will all return to court on Feb. 4 for a status hearing and to submit handwriting samples that prosecutors say will link them to the murder and credit card fraud.

Prosecutors say the suspects were manufacturing false credit cards at a home in Hercules and were well-known to the female victim, an 18-year-old woman who was found severely beaten beside Reid, who had been shot in the neck.

Both victims were taken to a hospital, where Reid died. The 18-year-old survived her injuries.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that the suspects had entered a home at 3733 San Bruno Ave. on Dec. 9 and assaulted Reid and the woman.

The two were then tied up and put into a GMC Yukon, according to the court documents. At some point, someone shot Reid inside the car, and he and the woman were dumped on the roadway on Brussels Street.

Prosecutors claim the suspects destroyed evidence in the Yukon the next day at a home on Pinnacle Court in Hercules by spraying cleaning fluid and taking blood-stained carpet and foam padding out of the vehicle.

The Pinnacle Court home where the car was parked belongs to Miller's mother, according to Miller's attorney. At the home, investigators found a credit card reader, a label maker, about 50 blank credit cards, a zip drive and handwritten notes.

Miller was charged with conspiracy and being an accessory to the crime after the fact. She is out of custody on $50,000 bail.

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