Witnesses’ description of East Bay murder suspect’s ‘very long red beard’ led to arrest; trial date set for next April

OAKLAND — A San Leandro man charged with murdering an acquaintance in a 2018 drive-by shooting is set to stand trial in late April, according to recently released court records.
R. Zacharia Grubbs, 47, was allegedly identified as a suspect in the murder of 35-year-old Andre Margain because of a unique physical characteristic: Grubbs’ bristling red beard, the source of his nickname — Red Beard — and a trait that several eyewitnesses pointed out to police in the aftermath of the 2018 shooting, according to court records. Grubbs has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing in November 2019, according to court records.
Court records say the early stages of Grubbs’ trial are expected to start April 19, but four days before that, attorneys will convene to discuss if the date still works for them. In the meantime, Grubbs remains in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a no-bail hold, records show.
Margain was shot and killed in June 2018, as he rode a motorcycle down the 16000 block of Bayberry Lane in San Lorenzo. Eyewitnesses told police a man with a “very long red beard” driving an Odyssey minivan pulled up alongside Margain and opened fire, striking not only Margain but a residence on the street. One witness said it appeared to be a road rage incident, though police later determined Grubbs and Margain knew each other, according to court records.
According to a probable cause statement written by an Alameda County Sheriff’s detective, three informants came forward to police claiming to have knowledge of the homicide. Two claimed that Grubbs was sore at Margain for allegedly stealing a motorcycle from him, but another claimed that the near-opposite was true; that Grubbs was angry over a drug debt owed to him and planned to take Margain’s motorcycle as compensation. The third informant, a woman, reportedly told police Margain went by “Red Beard” was out to get him.
A search of Margain’s phone showed one contact was listed as “Red Bread,” which police claim is a misspelling of “Red Beard.” Phone records showed Margain had called “Red Bread” more than a half-dozen times about 10 days prior to the shooting, the police probable cause statement says.
Police identified Grubbs as the suspect by searching “Red Beard” on Facebook and comparing his profile picture to prior booking photos When they interviewed Grubbs, he said he knew Margain but wasn’t on good terms with him because he was a known gang dropout with a reputation for robbing people, according to the probable cause statement. He denied any involvement in the homicide, and said he was elsewhere the day of the shooting.
After Grubbs was arrested, police eavesdropped on one of his jail calls with an unidentified man.
“Grubbs told the male he ‘f—– up’ and that there was a video camera at the house where ‘it’ happened,” the probable cause statement says. Later in the calls, “Grubbs continued to state he should have left, but they (law enforcement) would have caught him sooner or later so he might as well get it over with now.”
On that same call, Grubbs allegedly mentioned something about an Odyssey being at “Mesa Verde.” When detectives went to Mesa Verde Apartments in Hayward, they found an Odyssey that looked similar to the one described by witnesses in the homicide, the probable cause statement says.
Grubbs’ next court date, a setting hearing, has been set for January 21.

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