|KERN COUNTY JLWOP Inmate Edgar Zavala
On October 15, 2008 Edgar Zavala was sentenced for killing 26-year-old Stephanie Gutierrez, mother of five and 47-year-old Luis Gonzalez Ramirez on January 12, 2007 Zavala was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Stephanie was visiting her friend Luis at his house when a dispute arose between the victims and the two younger males, ending with both victims being shot and killed. Neither Gutierrez nor Gonzales was gang members.
JLWOP Inmate Edward Cook
Edward L. Cook was convicted of first degree murder of victim Donald Thornton in the commission of a robbery.
On August 21, 1994, Cook, then 16 years old, asked his friend Adolph if he was “down for a 187.” Adolph apparently thought a “187” was a robbery. The boys went out to the railroad tracks and saw Donald Thornton, whom they did not know, walking along the path carrying a shopping bag containing beer.
Defendant confronted Thornton using the command “break yourself” or “brake yourself.” . Thornton began to leave and then dropped his bag. Adolph picked up the bag, which contained three or four cans of beer Adolph was leaving with the beer and when he was about seven feet away, he turned and saw Cook’s fist slamming into Thornton’s side three or four times but he saw nothing in defendant’s hand. .When Cook caught up with Adolph., he was laughing and said that he had stabbed the man. Adolph then saw defendant was holding a pocketknife. .
The next day Cook told Adolph’s brother Marcus “he had stabbed some guy on the tracks late at night that night before.”. The following day Cook told his girlfriend about the stabbing and she then secretly called the police.
JLWOP INMATE Julian Garza
Julian Garza, 17, and his co-defendant Fregozo. 19, were sentenced to life in prison for their role in the Aug. 19, 2005, killing of Raul Ruiz.
Fregoso, Jesus Valenzuela, Stephen Romero, and Julian Garza were all involved in the murder of Raul Ruiz. All four had Northern gang connections in Delano. Valenzuela and Romero were both previously affiliated with the North Side Delano gang. Garza, who was also known as “Sleepy,” was a member of the West Side Delano gang. Fregoso was a member of the Varrio Delano Locos gang.
Both Valenzuela and Romero pled to felony false imprisonment with a gang enhancement, and felony accessory to kidnapping, for a maximum term of up to seven years, in exchange for their truthful testimony .
Valenzuela first saw Ruiz on the morning of August 28, 2005and they did drugs together. Upon learning that they were associated with rival gangs, they began to fight until Ruiz hit Valenzuela with a chain attached to his keys. Valenzuela ran into the backyard of Vincent Martinez’s house, caught hold of Ruiz’s chain, and pulled Ruiz into the yard. Valenzuela asked Martinez if he could leave Ruiz where he was, and Valenzuela left.
Sometime that evening, Romero picked up Fregoso and took him to Martinez’s house. Fregoso ordered Romero to park his car in reverse in the driveway.
At approximately 10:00 p.m., Valenzuela returned to Martinez’s house and found Ruiz in a six-foot-deep pit . Valenzuela saw Garza pull Ruiz out of the pit, hit him, and tie him up.
Romero got out of the car and saw seven to nine people in the yard. He saw Garza take a person out of a pit and drop him.. The man’s arms and legs were tied behind his back, and he had a shirt over his head. Fregoso and Garza kicked and beat the man . Garza ordered Romero at gunpoint to open his trunk. Ruiz was put into the trunk; after Fregoso got into the car, someone brought him a shovel and a pick.
Fregoso told Romero to drive to a desolate location. Garza suggested leaving the victim there, but Fregoso said they had to kill him to prevent him from “‘tell[ing] the cops where Vinny lives.’” Fregoso directed Romero to a cornfield and once there, Fregoso dragged Ruiz into the field. Garza and Valenzuela followed.
Romero stayed in the car and heard a gunshot, followed by screaming. Fregoso came out of the field. Romero then heard a second gunshot, and the screaming stopped. Garza and Valenzuela then came out of the field. Garza handed the gun to Valenzuela and told him to go back and shoot Ruiz, but Valenzuela refused and handed the gun back to Garza.
According to Valenzuela’s trial testimony, both Fregoso and Garza shot Ruiz. Romero testified that Garza said he shot Ruiz in the neck after Fregoso shot him. Fregoso was happy, bragging, and stated “‘we earned our stripes,’” which meant either killing or beating a Southern gang member.
JLWOP Inmate David Herring
On July 30, 1998, Judge Stephen Gildner sentenced David Harring, 17, to two life terms in prison including one without the possibility of parole. Harring had earlier had turned down a plea offer of a 15 years to life sentence..
Harring was found guilty of fatally shooting Arnulfo Soria, 61, and wounding his brother in November of 1997. Arnulfo Soria was walking home from a citizenship class when he was murdered.
Two other teens accepted plea bargains that included eight years in prison for their role in the slaying.