Orange County

JLWOP Inmate Gerardo Lopez

Gerardo Lopez, a Pacoima gang member who was a juvenile at the time of the offense – was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced in 2006 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of David Montemayor.

At a later trial, co-defendant and fellow Pacoima gang member Alberto Martinez sat silently without any outward sign of emotion Tuesday as an Orange County jury gave him the death penalty for his role in the kidnapping and murder of a Buena Park businessman nearly eight years ago.

The 10-woman, two-man jury decided that Alberto Martinez, 32, deserves to die for acting as the getaway driver after David Montemayor, 44, was gunned down on a street not far from his home when he tried to escape from his kidnappers.  Martinez was convicted of first-degree murder plus several special circumstances – including murder for financial gain, murder during a kidnapping and murder for the benefit of a street gang.

Those findings against Alberto Martinez set the stage for the penalty phase, where the jury’s only decision was whether to impose death or life without parole.

Martinez will be sentenced Aug. 6 by Superior Court Judge Francisco Brien.

Martinez was the fourth defendant to be tried in Orange County for the Oct. 2, 2002, Montemayor slaying.

Deputy District Attorney Howard Gundy said that Martinez was part of a team of killers hired by Deborah Ann Perna – Montemayor’s sister – to abduct and kill Montemayor so she could wrest control of the family business.

Perna was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2006.

Anthony Navarro, 44, who hired the Pacoima gang members for Perna, was convicted of first-degree murder plus several special circumstances and was sentenced to death in 2008.

Armando Macias, 34, a fifth suspect, faces his own death-penalty trial in September on allegations that he had a role in the slaying.

Witnesses testified that Perna wanted her brother killed after she learned that their father planned to give control of the family trucking business to his son.

The gang members were supposed to benefit from robbing Montemayor of cash that Perna claimed he had secreted away in coffee cans in his garage, Gundy argued.

But the plot went awry before they got to the garage when Montemayor bolted from the kidnappers on a Buena Park street rather than allow them to take him to his home, where his wife and children were waiting, Gundy said.

Detectives never found any secret stash in coffee cans.

Montemayor was shot as he ran, igniting a wild police pursuit that ended in Anaheim when Buena Park police executed a PIT maneuver to disable the car being driven by Martinez.

The panel deliberated about two-and-a-half days before convicting Perna of killing her brother, David Montemayor, 44, a married father of three.

Outside the courtroom, Montemayor’s widow, Susan, told reporters that the verdict represents “justice, yeah.”

“She decided David didn’t deserve to live,” the widow said. “She hated him.”

Until her arrest, Perna worked as the office manager at Interfreight Transport Co. in Compton. Her brother and their father, Pete Montemayor, operated the family business.

Perna believed that her brother was stealing from the business and wanted him out of the way. S

She also learned that her father was planning to turn control of the company over to her brother, said Mark Macaulay of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

JLWOP Inmate Thomas (Tommy) Miller

Tommy Miller was convicted of the murder of Carl Claes and was sentenced to life without possibility of parole on March 7, 1997.  Below are news coverage stories leading up to his conviction and sentencing.

May 25, 1995|Lee Romney and Greg Hernandez and David Reyes, Times Staff Writers

Orange — A 16-year-old former Tustin High School student who had developed a recent fascination for guns was charged with firing the shot that killed 14-year-old Carl Dan Claes in a secluded area of Lemon Heights last week.

The Orange County district attorney’s office filed murder charges against Thomas (Tommy) Miller, and accused his 15-year-old brother and a 17-year-old friend of aiding him after the slaying. Tommy Miller was also accused of robbery and personal use of a firearm in the attack, which investigators say followed a dispute over the victim’s $2,500 sound system.

May 25, 1995|Mark I. Pinsky, Times Staff Writer

Santa Ana — The 16-year-old suspect in the killing of 14-year-old Carl Dan Claes faces the possibility of life in prison without parole if tried and convicted as an adult under a controversial new California law, authorities said Wednesday.

Under the new law, 16- and 17-year-old suspects face stiffened penalties for serious felonies such as murder. The law went into effect in January as part of a juvenile justice package prompted by outrage over violent crimes caused by teen-agers.

December 04, 1996|Anna Cekola, Times Staff Writer

 Tommy Miller was out of control on methamphetamine when he shot Carl Dan Claes, his attorney tells jurors. Miller is being tried as an adult.

A teenager admits shooting an eighth-grader to death last year, but claims he was “wigged out” on methamphetamine as he pulled the trigger and wasn’t trying to steal the boy’s stereo, his lawyer told jurors Tuesday.

“Tommy Miller is responsible. He did kill Carl Claes,” defense attorney William Morrissey said. “He had no understanding of why he’d done what he’d done. He was scared. He was freaked.”

JLWOP Inmate Nhut Thanh Vo

On May 3, 1997 Vo shot 3 people and killed two of them: Tom Huyna and Son Nguyen. Vo was a member of the POV gang which stands for Power of Vietnam. Gang members crashed a graduation party the victims were attending.

Vo received two life without possibility of parole sentences for the two murders, one sentence of life with possibility of parole for the attempted murder plus 6 years for gang and gun enhancements when he was sentenced in Orange County on February 28, 2003

He wasn’t charged until 22 months after killings (3/22/99). He was arrested on October 5, 2000 and he subsequently appealed on the issue of denial of right to speedy trial which appellate court denied, however, his sentence on the attempted murder was reduced to 15 years and the appellate court struck the enhancements.

Prior news coverage is below

October 6, 2000 | By Matthew Ebnet, Times Staff Writer

Three years after a gang-related shooting left two people dead at a high school graduation party in Westminster, a man wanted in connection with the killings was arrested Monday when a police officer pulled him over for not wearing his seat belt, police said. Police arrested Nhut Thanh Vo, 19, about 10 a.m. at Trask Avenue and Jackson Street, said Det. Richard Mize of the Westminster Police Department.

October 06, 2000|Matthew Ebnet | Times Staff Writer

Police Arrest Man in 1997 Deaths of Two

Three years after a gang-related shooting left two people dead at a high school graduation party in Westminster, a man wanted in connection with the killings was arrested Monday when a police officer pulled him over for not wearing his seat belt, police said.

Police arrested Nhut Thanh Vo, 19, about 10 a.m. at Trask Avenue and Jackson Street, said Det. Richard Mize of the Westminster Police Department. Vo allegedly “played an active role” in the shootings, but Mize would not say what that was. Two people have already been prosecuted for the shooting on May 31, 1997; police believe the killings were the culmination of an escalating gang rivalry.

The man who police suspect actually fired the semiautomatic handgun, Van Ngoc Nguyen, remains at large. “Right now it’s three down, one to go,” Mize said. “It’s just a waiting game at this point. [Nguyen] will make a mistake too.”

Vo’s capture came by chance: A Garden Grove police officer, Michael Rosario, pulled Vo over for not wearing a seat belt. Police said Vo acted extremely nervous, fidgeting and sweating. “He was just really afraid of the car stop,” Mize said. Rosario, using the computer in his police car, did a thorough check, and discovered a $500,000 arrest warrant for Vo.

Police had sought Vo for three years. In 1997, they questioned him about the shootings, but he wasn’t arrested because police were trying to gather more evidence. Later, when they tried to arrest him, they said, he had fled.

JLWOP Inmate Brian Mote

Below is news stories published prior to sentencing of Brian Mote.

May 30, 1998|Hope Hamashige, Special To The Times

Pair Will Be Tried as Adults in Stabbing Death

A 17-year-old girl and her teenage boyfriend will be tried as adults on charges of murdering her grandmother in Los Alamitos, a judge ruled Friday.

Jessica Richards and Brian Mote, 17, were arrested and charged with murder several days after police discovered Jean Eleanor Richards, 62, stabbed to death at her home in December

Richards’ body was discovered Dec. 19 after neighbors noticed a shattered window at her home on Paseo Bonita, police said. Her car was missing from an open garage.

Family and neighbors said Richards and her granddaughter, whom she had raised, had been arguing in the previous months over school and money. Relatives had tried to have the girl placed in foster care or in a home for troubled teens.

Richards’ son-in-law, Jim Schroeder, said the family feared for her safety because the girl had threatened her life on several occasions.

“We wanted to make [Jessica Richards] a ward of the state and were trying to go through proper channels, but nobody would do anything,” Schroeder said at the time.

Police said they had responded to several domestic violence calls at the home.

The suspects were found sleeping in the victim’s car in Las Vegas. Investigators also found a knife in the car that they believe was the murder weapon.

May 27, 2000|Jack Leonard, Times Staff Writer

Woman, 19, Gets Prison in Murder of Grandmother

A young Los Alamitos woman was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for her role in the grisly killing of her grandmother, who was stabbed 36 times during a frenzied attack in her home 2 1/2 years ago, authorities said.

Prosecutors argued that Jessica Richards, 19, aided and abetted the slaying of Jean E. Richards, 62, in December 1997 because the teen was tired of living under her grandmother’s rules, said Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Walt Schwarm.

Jessica Richards was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder earlier this year. Her boyfriend, Brian Mote, also 19, is scheduled to face trial in August for his alleged connection with the killing. Richards argued in court that she suffered from manic depression and was not taking her medication around the time of the killing.

Jean Richards started raising her granddaughter after the girl’s mother was killed in a car crash in the 1980s. Relatives said the two quarreled frequently in the weeks leading up to the killing and that Jessica threatened several times to kill her grandmother.

Concerned, family members tried in vain to have the girl, who they said was involved in “devil worship,” placed in foster care or a home for troubled teens, officials said.

A day after the slaying, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police discovered Jessica Richards and Mote sleeping in the grandmother’s Toyota Camry, authorities said.

JLWOP Inmate Hilario Torres

On April 10, 1997, Hilario Torres was sentenced to life without possibility of parole plus 4 years for gang enhancement and personal use of firearm.  He was a member of the Southside Gang and was found guilty of the June 25, 1995 murder of Cupertino Pacheco, second degree robbery of Maria Ibarra, 2 counts of attempted robbery, street terrorism, and felony murder .

After being convicted in Orange County, his motion for new trial was denied.

JLWOP Inmate Edel Gonzales

 Along with co-defendants Enrique Morales Secoviana and Antonio Gonzales, Edel Gonzales attempted to rob victim Janet Mitchell aka Janet Bicknell of her 1988 Toyota.  Janet was shot and killed on August 4, 1991. Edel was found guilty in Orange County of murder, felony murder, street terrorism, and attempted second degree robbery, and sentenced to life without possibility of parole on November 5, 1993.

Below is news stories published prior to sentencing.

Judge Orders Trial of 3 in Murder Case

February 06, 1992|Lily Dizon of LA Times

Three reputed gang members were ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges of murdering a teacher’s aide who refused to give them her car.

Municipal Judge Michael Beecher’s decision to order the trial was based largely on the testimony given earlier this week by a former defendant in the case.

In exchange for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, Christopher F. Martinez, 19, of Santa Ana testified that the alleged triggerman confessed to the Westminster shooting after it happened.

Enough evidence was presented in the preliminary hearing to show “that all three be held to answer as charged,” Beecher ruled in Municipal Court in Westminster.

Janet L. Bicknell, 49, of Westminster, who worked as a playground supervisor at a Huntington Beach school, was fatally shot in the head inside her car while returning home from a grocery store Aug. 6.

Enrique M. Segoviano, 18, of Santa Ana, Antonio E. Gonzalez, 21, and his 16-year-old brother, Edel, both of Westminster, and a 14-year-old boy from Santa Ana have been charged with murder, street terrorism and conspiracy to commit a drive-by shooting.

Segoviano, the alleged gunman, and Edel Gonzalez are also charged with murder with a special circumstance. The 16-year-old is the first county juvenile to be tried on a special-circumstance charge, according to the prosecuting attorney, Deputy Dist. Atty. John A. Anderson.

If convicted, he and Segoviano would face life imprisonment without possibility of parole. If convicted, the others would face 25 years to life in prison.

The 14-year-old is being tried in Juvenile Court. Martinez testified that he and the defendants, who he said are also members of the Santa Ana 5th Street Gang, had been drinking beer and spraying graffiti that night.

The group decided to steal a car, he said, and use it to commit a drive-by shooting in the territory of the rival 17th Street Gang. They waited at Bowling Green Park in Westminster and planned to stop the next oncoming car, he testified.

Martinez also testified that Segoviano owned the murder weapon and that as Gonzalez drove the group away after the shooting, Segoviano admitted shooting Bicknell because she resisted.

Authorities found her slumped against her steering wheel, fatally shot in the head.

Antonio Gonzalez’s attorney, Jerome J. Goldfein, argued Wednesday that his client was only a witness to the shooting and should not be charged with either murder or conspiracy.

Anderson, however, countered that Gonzalez should be held liable for the slaying because he knew about the murder weapon and was the driver of the getaway car.

“That’s much more than simply giving (the others) a ride,” the prosecutor said. “That’s giving a group of armed marauders a ride . . . to commit a drive-by.”

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 18 in Superior Court in Santa Ana.

April 07, 1993|Lily Dizon | Times Staff Writer

Lawyer Seeks to Save 17-Year-Old From Life in Prison

Westminster — A defense attorney conceded in court Tuesday that his 17-year-old client was guilty of murder for his role in the 1991 shooting death of a teacher’s aide who refused to let gang members take her car.

But in trying to save Edel Gonzalez from a life sentence without possibility of parole, the attorney told a Superior Court jury during closing arguments that the young man did not act “with reckless indifference” to human life–a finding the jury must make for such a stiff prison term.

Gonzalez’s attorney, Dennis McNerney, argued that while the defendant is culpable as an active participant in the crime, he should not be compared to the alleged triggerman, Enrique Segoviano.

“I’ll concede that he’s guilty of murder,” McNerney said. “But, Edel is not just as liable as Enrique.”

Gonzalez is on trial at the Westminster courthouse in the fatal shooting of Janet Bicknell, 49, on Aug. 4, 1991. The young man testified Tuesday that on the day in question he and a group of fellow gang members planned to steal a car to do a drive-by shooting in a rival gang’s territory.

The scheme turned violent, Gonzalez said, when Bicknell refused to turn her car over to him and his friends in Westminster’s Bowling Green Park. She was fatally shot in the head as she tried to drive away, according to police.

Five young men, including Gonzalez, were later arrested and charged with murder, attempted robbery, and conspiracy to commit a drive-by shooting, and participating in a gang crime. Two have pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

The trial of Gonzalez’s 22-year-old brother, Antonio, and Segoviano, the alleged gunman, is scheduled to begin later this month.

During final statements Tuesday, Deputy Dist. Atty. John S. Anderson, the prosecutor, contended that Gonzalez displayed reckless indifference to human life by participating in a gang-related incident which included a car theft at gunpoint.

Anderson told the jury that although Gonzalez realized the danger, he still went along with his fellow gang members and is therefore guilty of first-degree murder and should be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

“This isn’t just a little robbery” that ended in a death, Anderson said. “This is a victim who–(if the defendant had) a little bit of thought instead of indifference–maybe, she would have gotten away.”

Jurors are scheduled to begin deliberations today. If convicted of first-degree murder with “reckless indifference,” Gonzalez could become one of the first juveniles in Orange County to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

April 09, 1993|Matt Lait | Times Staff Writer

Youth Guilty of Murder in Woman’s Death

Edel Gonzalez, 18, of Westminster is likely to face life imprisonment for his role in a carjacking attempt that turned fatal.

So far, Christopher F. Martinez, 20, and a 14-year-old defendant have agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the case. The trials of Gonzalez’s 22-year-old brother, Antonio, and Enrique Segoviano, 19, the alleged triggerman, are scheduled for next month.

In an interview with The Times five days after the shooting, Segoviano admitted that he killed Bicknell but insisted that her death was a mistake.

The bullet just went off,” he said in a jailhouse interview.

Although Gonzalez was not the shooter, conviction under the state’s felony murder rule makes him just as culpable, Anderson said. The rule states that someone can be held liable for murder if a death occurs during the commission of certain felonies.

During the closing arguments in Gonzalez’s trial, his defense attorney, Dennis McNerney, conceded that his client was guilty of murder but argued that Gonzalez should be spared from a life sentence without parole because he was not as culpable as Segoviano.

After the verdict Thursday, McNerney said he was “very upset” with the jury’s decision and indicated that he would appeal the conviction.

JLWOP Inmate Oscar David Andrade

The District Attorney filed a special circumstance case for Andrade to be tried as an adult. He murdered Edward Rendon on March 2, 2004.  Andrade was a member of Southside Raza gang and he and his three co-defendants Cesar Loza, Luis Loza and Peter Antonio Ruiz were fighting rivals Family Mob

On April 18, 2005, Andrade was found guilty of murder with finding that he personally discharged firearm, and a finding of gang enhancement.  Andrade was sentenced to LWOP plus 25 years and his co-defendants got 25 to life terms. 

JLWOP Inmate Jose Luis Suarez

His co-defendant was his girlfriend Kandice Noel Ortega. Suarez was in a gang called La Jolla. He was charged with the murder of Manuel Hernandez  on  May 16, 2006  in Placentia., and he was charged with criminal street gang activity and personal use of firearm.  On January 9, 2009 Suarez was sentenced in Orange County and received life without possibility of  parole.

The victim had been standing by an ice cream truck when Suarez started shooting. The victim tried to run but was shot five times. Suarez’s girlfriend Kandice Ortega was driving the car and Suarez  and Ortega were arrested later in Arizona.  He was taped in jail talking to another gang member and admitted to shooting victim and said Ortega was with him. Ortega received a sentence of 40 years to life.

JLWOP Inmate Rafael Servin

Rafael was sentenced in Orange County to LWOP plus 28 years for enhancements for killing victim Victor Ruiz. Servin intentionally shot Victor Ruiz in a dark alley on March 23, 2003 while co-defendant Mario Fernandez acted as lookout, Fernandez pled out and was sentenced to 11 years state prison in 2005 

Post conviction, Servin made motion for new trial and to disclose jury information to defense on which was denied by the trial court.

This killing occurred after defendants had been throwing pipes in road and victim who was with his girlfriend questioned them about why they were endangering motorists

Appellate Decision:

Defendant Rafael Servin was convicted of first degree murder and street terrorism. The jury found true the special circumstance alleging the murder had been committed while defendant was an active gang member and was carried out to further the gang’s criminal activities. The jury also found true several conduct enhancements, including a gang enhancement. In light of the true finding on the special circumstance, the trial court sentenced defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole on the murder conviction; the court also sentenced defendant to the upper term of three years on the street gang terrorism conviction. (The court also imposed a consecutive sentence of 25 years to life on one of the enhancements; this portion of the sentence is not challenged on appeal.)

Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in denying a motion to sever the street terrorism charge and bifurcate the gang enhancement from the murder charge. We disagree. The gang evidence would have been cross-admissible in a separate trial on the murder charge because it was relevant to issues of motive, premeditation, and deliberation. The gang evidence was no more likely to inflame the jury than the evidence of the murder itself, and the case against defendant for murder was strong. Even if the trial court had abused its discretion, we would find that error harmless, given the strength of the evidence against defendant on the murder charge.

Defendant next argues the trial court imposed an unlawful sentence under Penal Code section 654 by failing to stay imposition of the sentence on the street terrorism conviction. (All further statutory references are to the Penal Code.) We conclude that the jury’s true finding on the special circumstance on the murder conviction means the intent and objective for both murder and street terrorism were the same. Therefore, under section 654, imposition of the sentence on the street terrorism conviction must be stayed.

Finally, defendant argues the trial court erred by retroactively imposing a security fee. We agree. Section 1465.8, which authorizes the security fee, was enacted after defendant committed these crimes. Section 3 prohibits retroactive application of any part of the Penal Code, absent an express declaration of retroactivity. No such declaration exists in section 1465.8. Therefore, the security fee must be stricken.

Statement of Facts and Procedural History

On March 22, 2003, Victor Ruiz and Noemi Robles were driving to Ruiz’s mother’s apartment, when their car ran over something in the road. Robles saw someone walk from the sidewalk into the street, reach down for something, and return to the sidewalk. After Ruiz parked the car, he and Robles walked back down the street. They saw two young men near the place where the car had run over the object in the road. Ruiz asked the men what they were doing. One of them responded, what’s it to you? Why do you care? Ruiz replied, what’s it to me, is that somebody is going to end up getting hurt. The man responded, why do you care? It doesn’t matter. The man said he would bet $10 he could kick Ruiz’s butt. Ruiz countered; I’ll see you’re ten. At Robles’ urging, Ruiz walked away.

After Ruiz and Robles were inside the apartment, Ruiz decided to move the car, and went back outside. After several minutes, Robles went to look for him. Robles saw Ruiz and the two young men in the street. As Robles approached, she saw one of the men run away, then heard a gunshot and saw the other man running away with a shotgun. At trial, Robles identified defendant as the young man with the shotgun. Ruiz was lying in an alley, having suffered a fatal shotgun wound to the head.

On the evening of Ruiz’s murder, defendant and his friend, Mario Fernandez, were visiting defendant’s sister and brother-in-law, Maria and Manuel Sierra. (We will refer to Maria and Manuel by their first names to avoid confusion, and intend no disrespect.) Defendant and Fernandez had brought a shotgun with them to the Sierras home. From inside the house, Maria saw defendant and Fernandez outside sitting by a tree, and later saw defendant standing and confronting Ruiz and Robles in the street. A short time later, Maria again looked out the window and saw defendant, Fernandez, and Ruiz in the alley. Maria saw defendant shoot a big gun and heard a gunshot. Manuel also heard the gunshot. When defendant and Fernandez came back into the Sierras home, they did not have the shotgun with them; however, defendant was holding a shotgun shell. (Maria and Manuel were charged as accessories after the fact. They agreed to testify against defendant in exchange for lenient sentences.)

The police found a shotgun near the scene of the shooting. Defendants DNA was on the shotgun. Shotgun shell fragments and pellets recovered from Ruiz’s skull during an autopsy were consistent with having been fired from that shotgun.

On the sidewalk at the scene, police investigators found a steel pipe; a shotgun shell and a beer bottle were also found nearby. Defendants fingerprint and DNA were found on the beer bottle.

An expert witness on gangs identified defendant and Fernandez as active members of the Bassett criminal street gang. After defendant was arrested, he waived his rights and admitted to the police he had been walked into the Bassett gang two years before Ruiz’s murder. The expert testified that gang’s primary activities included murder, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon, shooting, robbery, and car theft, possession of weapons, narcotics sales, and witness intimidation. The gang expert opined that defendant murdered Ruiz to benefit his gang, because Ruiz did not show defendant proper respect and because the murder would enhance defendants status and the status of his gang in the community.

Defendant and Fernandez were charged with first degree murder (Pen. Code,  187, subd. (a) [count 1]), and street terrorism (id.,  186.22, subd. (a) [count 2]). The information alleged as a special circumstance that the murder had been committed while defendant was an active participant in a criminal street gang and was carried out to further the gang’s activities. (Id.,  190.2, subd. (a)(22).) The information also alleged as enhancements to count 1: defendant was a gang member who discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury (id.,  12022.53, subds. (d) & (e)(1)); he personally discharged a firearm, causing death (id.,  12022.53, subd. (d)); and the murder was committed to promote, further, or assist in criminal conduct by a street gang (id.,  186.22, subd. (b)(1)). Defendant and Fernandez were tried separately.

A jury convicted defendant of both counts, and found the special circumstance and all enhancement allegations to be true. Defendant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on count 1, a consecutive sentence of 25 years to life for the firearm discharge by a gang member enhancement, and a consecutive sentence of 3 years the upper term on count 2. Punishment was stayed on the personal discharge of a firearm enhancement and the gang enhancement. Defendant appealed.

JLWOP   Inmate Julio Ponce

Alden Julio Ponce (age 17) killed victim Matthew Maldondo on August 30, 2002. Julio and co-defendant Trejo were members of Latin Boys Gang.  Ponce was charged with murder and with personal use of gun enhancement.  Ponce had jumped out of van that Trejo was driving, confronted Matthew and asked him what he claimed, when victim said he didn’t, the victim was shot in back.

At sentencing Ponce was given life without possibility of parole sentence and co-defendant Trejo given 50 years to life sentence.

JLWOP Inmate Juan Roldan and Oiram Ayala

A  Hispanic Santa Ana criminal street gang member prosecuted as an adult was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for murdering two gang rivals and leaving a third in a coma after an execution-style gang shooting. Juan Roldan, now 21, was convicted by a jury Sept. 30, 2010, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders for the benefit of a criminal street gang, one felony count of attempted murder, two felony counts of street terrorism, one felony count of assault with a firearm, and sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and the vicarious discharge of a firearm as a gang member causing death and bodily injury.

Oiram Roman Ayala was found guilty by a jury Sept. 30, 2010, of the same charges as Roldan and was sentenced Oct. 22, 2010, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Ayala was also a juvenile at the time of the murders.

Another co-defendant Marco Antonio Perez, now 18, was found guilty by a jury June 25, 2009, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang, one felony count of attempted murder, one felony count of street terrorism, and sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and the vicarious discharge of a firearm as a gang member causing death and bodily injury. He was sentenced Oct. 23, 2009, to 50 years to life in state prison. Another juvenile co-defendant Prospero Guadarrama, now age 20, faces the same charges as Perez and is set for jury trial May 6, 2011.

 Two adult co-defendants, Norberto Hernandez and Angel Garcia, were found guilty in separate trials. Each of these adult co-defendants received two life sentences  without the possibility of parole plus Hernandez received an additional 93 years to life and Garcia received an additional fifty years to life.

 On Dec. 15, 2006, Hernandez, Ayala and Roldan went to a rival gang neighborhood with guns in search of rivals.  When the two gangs began shooting at each other, an innocent street vendor was caught in the crossfire. Victim Gumaro Rojas was shot in the back and paralyzed.

Two days later, then-14-year-old Marco Perez drove Roldan, Hernandez and Garcia into a rival neighborhood. Guadarrama and Ayala were also in the car. The defendants drove around Santa Ana searching for rival gang members to shoot and kill. The defendants spotted three young rival gang members, 14-year-old Angel Secundino, 15-year-old Gabriel Perez, and 16-year-old Fernando Garcia.  The defendants murdered Secundino and Gabriel Perez by shooting them execution-style in the head. Victim Garcia was shot in the stomach and seriously wounded.