A 43-year-old man is facing a murder charge for allegedly gunning down a Long Beach reggae and hip-hop artist who had worked with the bands Sublime and Slightly Stoopid.
Thomas Neri Arellaga Jr. entered a not guilty plea Monday in the killing of Tasi Malaki, and co-defendant Lorna Santos Clemena, 43, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact with knowledge of the crime, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Malaki was shot in the upper body about 11:40 p.m. Aug. 10 near West Willow Street and Eucalyptus Avenue and died at the scene.
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Detectives believe the victim and Arellaga were involved in a dispute -- the nature of which was not disclosed -- that led to the shooting, and that Clemena "was aware of the shooting, and attempted to protect Thomas Arellaga from arrest, trial, or conviction by concealing evidence related to the shooting,'' according to a Long Beach police statement.
A post on his official Facebook page said Malaki -- who performed under the stage name "Toko Tasi'' was "taken away from this Earth by senseless violence,'' and said benefit shows would take place in Long Beach in the near future. His most recent album, "Rise ta Shine,'' was released in 2017.
Arellaga and Clemena -- both Long Beach residents -- were arrested last Thursday by homicide detectives at a residence in the San Bernardino County community of Hesperia.
The two remain jailed while awaiting their next court appearance Sept. 11.