JLWOP Inmate Aaron Robinson

A 21-year-old gang member was convicted of murder for his participation in the 2004 shooting deaths of a U.S. Navy sailor and one other.  

Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila said jurors deliberated for less than a day before convicting Aaron Robinson of two counts of first-degree murder and finding true the special circumstance allegation that the defendant was an active participant in a criminal street gang and the murder was carried out to further the activities of the gang. Jurors additionally found true principal armed and gang allegations.

Because the defendant was 16 at the time of the murders, he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. A second man, John Williams, 28, is awaiting trial on the same charges.

Prosecutors contend that Robinson, Williams and another man went into rival gang territory on May 24, 2004 – three days after Robinson was shot by a gang rival and released from the hospital – to carry out a retaliatory shooting.

Robinson drove the vehicle containing alleged gunman Williams and another man. Prosecutors contend that Williams and the third suspect carried out a random attack with an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9-mm handgun on victims Brian Butler and Melvin Knowles, both 25.

Long-time friends Butler and Knowles were out celebrating Butler’s military leave. Butler sustained 11 gunshot wounds and Knowles was shot nine times. Neither victim had gang ties. Knowles’ wife, who was accompanying the two victims, escaped injury, prosecutors said.

An investigation against the third suspect is ongoing.

At sentencing on July 8, 2009 two gang members were ordered to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for the shooting deaths of a Navy sailor, who had recently returned from a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf, and one of his friends.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry imposed two life terms without the possibility of parole on both Aaron Robinson, 21, and John Williams, 28, and also tacked on an additional 50 years to life.

The two were convicted in separate trials of first-degree murder for the slayings of Brian Butler Jr., 25, of Gardena, and Melvin Deonte Knowles, 25, of Lakewood.

Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation that the murders were carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang.

The two victims, who were longtime friends, had no gang affiliations and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when they were attacked in the Hyde Park area of South Los Angeles on May 24, 2004, according to Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila.

Butler was shot 11 times, while Knowles suffered nine gunshot wounds.

Robinson, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was charged as an adult and sentenced to the maximum term he could face.

The judge noted that he believed Robinson was “the instigator of this very tragic retaliation shooting” and was “deserving of the sentence.”

In a brief statement just he was sentenced, Williams said he had pressed Robinson “into this.”

Outside court, the prosecutor called Williams “manipulative” and said he believed the statement — which Williams had never made during interviews with police — was intended to curry favor with Robinson.

Authorities are continuing to investigate who fired the second weapon.

JLWOP Inmate Ronald Kupsch

Ronald Kupsch, teenage son of  Valerie Martin, was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for murdering William Whiteside, along with his mother and two other co-defendants, when Kupsch was seventeen-years-old.

His mother Valerie Dee Martin was prosecuted along with the three men in case No. MA026253. She was convicted of the robbery, kidnapping and murder of her boyfriend, William Whiteside who was killed on Feb. 28, 2003, and she was subsequently sentenced to death. Two of her co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. including her teenage son Ronald Kupsch and Christopher Kennedy.  A fourth defendant, Brad Zoda, fourteen years-old at the time of the crime, who testified against his fellow co-defendants, was expected to accept a first degree murder juvenile “conviction”.

The four were charged in the slaying of William Whiteside, an Antelope Valley Hospital maintenance worker whose battered body was found March 10, 2003 inside the trunk of his burned car.

Coroner’s officials say Whiteside, who lived in the Lido Estates mobile- home park, died from thermal burns, and other injuries, including head injuries. Investigators believe Whiteside was knocked out and put into the trunk of his car, which was then set afire.

According to Lido Estates neighbors, Martin and her teenage son had lived with Whiteside in his mobile home for seven or eight months before his death.

Whiteside was the father of grown children and had been separated from his wife for about two years, neighbors said. They said the victim and Martin met through their jobs at the hospital, where Martin worked in housekeeping.

Whiteside was last seen Feb. 27 and was reported missing by his wife two days later, according to coroner’s records. On Feb. 27, his burned car was found on a street. Sheriff’s deputies had it towed to a local tow yard. Investigators arrived to search the car and discovered Whiteside’s burned body in the trunk.

JLWOP Inmate Lief  Taylor

Man Guilty in 3rd Trial for Murder

July 25, 2006|Peter Y. Hong, Times Staff Writer

After reversal of a 1994 verdict and a hung jury on retrial, Leif Taylor is again convicted of the 1993 fatal shooting of a Long Beach student.

A Long Beach jury on Monday again convicted a man for the 1993 slaying of a graduate student from a prominent local family. Shadden was shot and killed in May 1993, apparently while chasing two men who had attempted to steal his bicycle

Leif Taylor, 29, had been found guilty in 1994 of killing William Shadden, but his conviction was reversed two years ago by a federal appeals court, which ruled that Long Beach police had coerced a confession.

Taylor, who is scheduled to be sentenced next month, has been in prison for the Shadden killing since he was 16. He faces a maximum prison term of life without parole.

Shadden’s mother, Sandi Shadden, shook with emotion as the verdict was read. She and her husband, Thomas, are influential community leaders and philanthropists in Long Beach. Her eyes covered by dark glasses in the courtroom, she squeezed her husband’s hand to steady her trembling. (editorial note: victim’s mother Sandi died of cancer after this article was written)

Taylor had cried before the jury arrived in the courtroom, but he displayed no emotion as the verdict was announced. He was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by bailiffs, as lawyers discussed sentencing dates with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joan Comparet Cassani.

Outside the courtroom, Sandi Shadden said she was pleased with the verdict, but expressed sympathy for Taylor’s mother.

“I lose a son; she loses a son,” she said.

At sentencing, Taylor received life without possibility of parole sentence in the 2006 trial.

JLWOP Inmate Saul Rivera

Months before he gunned down two teenage brothers, Canoga Park member Saul Rivera made the first of a series of mistakes that would put him in prison for the rest of his life — he asked a cop to run the serial number on a gun.  That misstep and other evidence earned him life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of 16-year-old David Zapata and his brother Miguel, 15, outside a Canoga Park restaurant Feb. 2, 2005.

In November of 2006, Rivera, 18, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and other weapons charges. In a separate trial in October, his accomplices, Jesse Martinez, 18, and Richardo Martinez, were sentenced to 100 years to life and 50 years to life, respectively.

Rivera was tried as an adult but was not eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor at the time of the killings, prosecutors said.  On February 8, 2007 Saul Rivera was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Months before the shooting, Rivera approached campus officer  because he wanted him to check out a serial number on a handgun he wanted to buy but wanted to make sure it wasn’t stolen.

“I told him, ‘You shouldn’t be messing with guns,’” Perez said Thursday.

Perez ran the serial number but never told Rivera that the 9mm handgun was clean. The day of the killings, Rivera and the two Martinez boys, who are not related, approached the Zapata brothers outside a Wienerschnitzel .  After discovering the brothers claimed Temple Street, another gang, Rivera, then 16, shot the boys with the 9mm gun.

Perez received a call from Detective Rick Swanston after Rivera and his accomplices were arrested. A woman had followed the boys after the killing and led police to where they found the gun.

Swanston knew Perez had information on Rivera and the Canoga Park Alabama gang and told him Rivera was in custody for a double murder. “‘Hey,’ he said to the detective. ‘By any chance was it a 9mm Glock?’ And I stated the serial number, and he was just surprised and said, ‘How do you know that?”‘

For the Martinez family, Rivera’s sentencing brings them little solace. “We’ve got to stop the violence of all these gangs,” said Denise Zapata, the boys’ mother.

JLWOP Inmate Christopher Jay Murray

Two Teens Convicted of Murder,
Attempted Murder in Hacienda Heights

November 14, 2007

Christopher Trevizo, 15, and Demestries Flores, 17, were shot to death on April 3, 2006, while in a flood control channel near Los Altos Drive in Hacienda Heights. The attempted murder victim, Flores’ twin brother, survived the shooting

Nineteen-year-old Christopher Jay Murray Jr., pleaded no contest earlier this year to the murders and attempted murder, but he also claimed to be insane at the time the crimes were committed. The jury that heard Murray’s sanity trial last month found him sane.   Murray was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on October 22, 2007.

The motive for the murders was over a quarter of an ounce of marijuana that Murray believed was stolen from him a couple of months before the killings, authorities added.

Two co-defendants , one 18 and the other 19,  were convicted of murder today in connection with the fatal shootings of two other teenagers in Hacienda Heights last year.

Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese said a jury convicted Salvador Jacob Villanueva, 19, of one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Co-defendant  Angelo Vasquez , 18, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one of attempted murder. The jury found true the allegations of personal use of a firearm against both defendants, the prosecutor said.

Both  faced  life sentences when they return to court for sentencing by trial Judge Ti a Fisher on Dec. 19.

Update on appellate review of   trials of Salvador Villanueva and Angelo Jacob Vasquez

In September, 2010 the California Supreme Court refused  to review the case against two young men convicted for their roles in the April 2006 shooting deaths of two teenagers in Hacienda Heights over a drug dispute.

The state’s highest court denied petitions seeking review of the case against Salvador Villanueva and Angelo Jacob Vasquez.  On May 6, a three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in the pair’s trial in Pomona Superior Court.

In the 15-page ruling, the justices noted that Villanueva and Vasquez were convicted as “aiders and abettors” in the April 3, 2006, slayings of Christopher Trevizo, 15, and Demetries Flores, 17, and the attempted murder of Flores’ brother.

“Murray, Vasquez and Villanueva were all carrying guns as they spotted the Trevizo trio and then followed them into the wash area,” the justices noted in their ruling.
Murray shot and killed Trevizo and Flores and shot at but missed Flores’ brother, while Villanueva and Vasquez pointed guns at the Flores brothers but fired no shots, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling. After the shooting, the three defendants showered and then disposed of their guns and clothes, according to the ruling.

JLWOP Inmate Dusty Tyrone Castillo

Calling him a “sociopath” with “extremely violent and predatory tendencies,” a Superior Court judge  in Van Nuys Friday sentenced an 18-year-old Simi Valley man to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the robbery and murder of a Porter Ranch pizzeria manager.

Dusty Tyrone Castillo was also sentenced to 36 years and 8 months in state prison on another 20 felony counts, including at least a dozen assaults and bank, restaurant and clothing store robberies he committed during a crime spree from November 1992 to January 1993.

Handcuffed and wearing jail blues and a white rosary, Castillo smiled at members of the Holden family who told Castillo how he destroyed their family the night in 1993 when he killed John Michael Holden, 19.

“You took my brother, and you took my sense of family,” Kelly Holden said. “You are a predator of society.”

The victim’s mother, Carol Holden, said two murders actually were committed that night.

“The first murder was of my precious son, the second was my family,” she said.

Judge Charles L. Peven said Castillo “would scare the hell out of everybody” and seemed to derive excitement and pleasure by inflicting fear and pain in others. Because of Castillo’s violent nature, Peven said he would recommend sending Castillo to a maximum-security prison, such as San Quentin or Pelican Bay.

A probation report from the California Youth Authority recorded Castillo’s long list of crimes and his violent nature. In it, Castillo blamed a deprived childhood for his criminal tendencies, and said anyone who tried to help him was wasting their time.

“My son is the kind of guy, who if someone like Dusty walked up to him, he’d help him,” Carol Holden said. “We need more Johns, not more Dustys.” Castillo was reported as saying, “I will always smile and outlive the relatives of the victim who cheered at my trial.”

“He’s smiling at me right now,” Peven said as he passed sentence. “He smiled throughout the whole trial.”

According to police, Castillo and two others–Alex Velasquez, 19, and Oscar Villanueva, 18–went to  rob the pizza parlor the evening of Jan. 14, 1993. While Villanueva waited in the car, Castillo and Velasquez confronted Holden and demanded money.

Holden gave them $450 and offered them the checks from under the register, his mother said, but Castillo shot the Moorpark College student anyway, point-blank in the chest.

All three were under 18 years of age when the killing occurred, but were ordered to stand trial as adults.

Villanueva pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 years to life in a state prison, though he will serve the first seven years in a juvenile facility. Velasquez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 26 years to life in prison.

Lydia Nelson, Castillo’s mother, said she has shed a lot tears for the victim’s family, but believes she and her son have been persecuted throughout the trial.

“But I will not abandon him in his hour of need,” she said.

JLWOP Inmate  Leon Durell Hobley

September 05, 1993 by Randal C. Archibold, LA Times staff writer

Mother Lashes Out at Son’s Killer During Sentencing

Courts: Wanda Johnson says Leon Durell Hobley should die for 1991 slayings. But Hobley, a  gang member, who was a minor when he murdered Demon Johnson and a friend, gets maximum penalty of life in prison.

Hobley was arrested in July, but escaped from officers as he was led into the Inglewood courthouse for a hearing. When he was found in October, he had a handcuff key dangling from his necklace, authorities said at the time.

Hobley’s attorney, Tom Althaus, said robbery motivated the slayings. He agreed with Jennings that the crime was “horrendous,” but he urged the judge to allow Hobley the chance for parole–after serving 55 years in prison, when he would be 74 years old.

Jennings suggested that prosecutors would have sought the death penalty if Hobley had been an adult at the time of the crime.

Althaus said Hobley’s conduct was inexcusable, but could be explained in light of his background in a violent Compton neighborhood and a troubled household.

Hobley, Althaus said, was shuffled among relatives including a drug-addicted mother, who in an interview after the hearing acknowledged past drug use and displayed scars on her leg from four gunshot wounds she said she sustained in a drive-by shooting.

“I don’t think he did it,” said Veldayvatta Hobley Pollard, 35.

And if he did, Pollard said, “probably the people he was hanging out with” drove him to the crime.

“He was a regular child who grew up in a ghetto,” said Pollard, who quarreled with Johnson’s relatives in the hallway, although Hobley’s great-grandmother, Carola Thomas Childs, hugged and kissed Wanda Johnson during a break in the proceedings.

“He had to live by the rules and regulations of the area he stayed in,” Pollard added.

Childs said she took Hobley to church when he was a child so he would “be God-fearing.” When he developed an “attitude problem,” she said, he received psychological counseling, although his frequent moves among relatives made it hard to keep it up.

In her testimony, Wanda Johnson transfixed courtroom observers as she testified about her anguish and scolded Hobley.

“My son’s life was not such where he needed your cowardly help (to put him) out of his misery,” said Johnson, whose son worked as a janitor while caring for an infant daughter. “So don’t stand straight (and) pat yourself on the back too soon because it doesn’t take courage to be a coward.

“I gave my all, and then some, as a teen-age mother to raise my son to be a decent human being, and all that for him to be taken out by a wimp,” she continued. “We have to stop patting these criminals on the back . . . We must stop letting crime pay.”

The death penalty, Johnson said, must be regularly implemented “to show these criminals what it feels like, the fright of knowing . . . you’re going to die

JLWOP Inmate Marcos Salcido

Jose Alberto was at home and his parents were in the living room watching television. His younger brother, Pedro, had been outside saying goodbye to his girlfriend.  Jose Alberto heard gunshots. At first he didn’t do anything, but then he heard his mother scream so he ran outside. Pedro was standing by the front gate, bleeding from two gunshot wounds to the head.

Jose Alberto’s mother, Maria, testified she and her husband went outside when they heard the gunshots. Maria saw Pedro standing in the front yard. She also saw three young men near Pedro. These men were “passing by, walking by” Pedro. Maria testified her husband, Jose Luis, tried to apprehend these men: “He saw them so close by that his first impulse was to run towards them, to grab them.” Maria ran to Pedro and hugged him.

At the time of the shooting, Joaquin Zepeda was outside, leaning on his car which was parked just up the street from Jose Alberto’s house. When he heard the gunshots, Zepeda felt a hot sensation on his neck like the burn from a passing bullet. He saw an older man running up the street after someone and yelling “Agarre,” which Spanish is for “grab him.” Zepeda testified he heard, but did not see, at least two other people running up the street at this time. Zepeda saw the older man fall to the ground. Baldwin Park Police Officer Luis Valdivia was on patrol at the time and responded to a radio call about shots fired. He was flagged down by a man and told someone had been shot. Valdivia found Jose Luis lying on the ground, bleeding from the chest. The wound was fatal.

Other officers found Pedro lying on the ground in front of his house. He had been shot six times and he was pronounced dead by responding paramedics. A single .40-caliber expended shell casing and seven 9-millimeter expended shell casings were found near Pedro’s body. Three more 9-millimeter expended shell casings were found up the  street, closer to Jose Luis’s body.

“[T]he evidence of Salcido’s and Rodriguez’s direct participation in the shootings was clear and definitive. Through their own testimony and statements to the police, Rodriguez and Salcido admitted planning and undertaking the shootings . . . . Salcido . . . admitted to firing the first shot, though he implausibly asserted that this act somehow was supposed to discourage Islas and Rodriguez from consummating the planned shooting. Similarly, though Rodriguez tried to minimize his role and degree of culpability, [he] admitted to carrying a .22 caliber handgun at the time of the shooting, that he had heard talk of putting in work as he drove around in the car with Islas and Salcido and that he had walked toward the. house with his gun drawn.”

JLWOP Inmate David Adkins

March 11, 1993|Edmund Newton | Times Staff Writer

2 Get Maximum Terms in Pasadena Triple Murder

David Adkins gets life without possibility of parole, and Vincent Hebrock receives 51 years to life in 1991 shotgun slaying of teen-age girls.

Two young men convicted in the 1991 shotgun slayings of three teen-age girls in Pasadena were given maximum sentences after a judge heard emotional accounts from members of the victims’ families about how the murders had devastated their lives.

Pasadena Superior Court Judge J. Michael Byrne sentenced David Adkins, 18, to life in prison without the possibility of parole and Vincent Hebrock, 19, to 51 years to life. The two defendants, who had been found guilty by separate juries last August, sat grim-faced and rigid as the judge read the sentences

JLWOP Inmate James Amadeo

On July 8, 1997 19-year-old James Amadeo, who was convicted of beating a probation officer to death with a table leg in order to escape from a juvenile detention center, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

Judge Robert Perry called James Amadeo an “intractable” and “sophisticated” criminal for laying in wait and killing 58-year-old Arnold Garcia in 1994 when Amadeo was sixteen-years-old and incarcerated at Dorothy Kirby Correctional Center in Industry.

JLWOP Inmate Ritch Bryant

His head freshly shaved, wearing a blue and white jail uniform and slouching in his chair, an avowed white supremacist was condemned Monday to spend the rest of his life in prison for beating a black homeless man to death to earn lightning bolt tattoos.

Asked by the judge whether he had anything to say before he was sentenced, Ritch Bryant, 20, replied, “What is there to say? Do whatever you’ve got to do.”

Bryant, a member of the Lancaster white supremacist group Nazi Low Riders, was one of three skinheads convicted of killing 43-year-old Milton Walker Jr. two days after Thanksgiving 1995. Prosecutors said it was the first murder case of its kind in memory.

On November 22, 1999, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito sentenced Bryant to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus five years for additional allegations.

Walker’s killing was neither Bryant’s first crime nor even his first race-related crime. According to court documents, he was arrested seven times between the ages of 12 and 16 on charges including theft, battery and cruelty to animals.

In December 1995, he was one of five or six juveniles who beat and stabbed a black student on the baseball field at Antelope Valley High School. Although he was only 16, he was treated as an adult, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison, which Ito said he must complete before beginning his current life sentence.

As reported by Evelyn Larrubia of LA Times in 11/23/99 article

JLWOP Inmate Joe Patrick Gaines s

Joe Patrick Gaines, 18, was convicted of fatally shooting a retired schoolteacher, Kathryn Dawson, execution-style in her home and robbing her of $20.00. The victim was a longtime family friend of Gaines, a gang member who committed the robbery and murder when he was seventeen. On July 8, 2002 Gaines was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At the time of the robbery and murder, Gaines was on probation for carrying a firearm.

Gaines and another teenager, Ollie Wayne Hawkins Jr., 17, robbed Dawson. Hawkins testified that he watched Gaines force the 73-year-old woman to lie down with a pillow over her head, then shoots her once in the head.

JLWOP Inmate Louis Andres Gomez,

Two years after Louis Gomez was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder he committed on November 11, 1994, he killed again.  His next victim was another inmate at. Calipatria State Prison, 41-year-old Abe Mendibles who he stabbed to death in a prison classroom on April 13, 1008.

Gomez was tried and convicted of second degree murder of Abe Mendibles and assault with a deadly weapon by a life prisoner with malice aforethought. This murder conviction was affirmed by the appellate court as was the life without possibility of parole sentence and its five-year enhancement which the trial court had ordered to run consecutive to the sentence (the jlwop life without possibility of parole) that Gomez was serving at the time of the prison murder.

JLWOP Inmate Francisco Perez

Francisco Perez was seventeen when he shot and killed a Paramount High School honors student during a robbery attempt at a fast-food restaurant on June 17, 1992. Superior Court Judge Steven Suzukawa sentenced Francisco Perez on December 20, 1993 to life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder and attempted robbery of victim Alfred Clark plus six years for the attempted robbery.

Clark, a star football player, sprinter and honors student who was to enter UCLA on a scholarship, was killed on the eve of his high school graduation, just after picking up his cap and gown. He was eating lunch with friends at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Perez demanded that Clark give him Clark’s portable compact disc player. When Clark refused, Perez shot him in the chest and killed him.

JLWOP Inmate Oscar Mora

Oscar Mora was a 16-year-old Hollywood boy when he fatally shot to death three youths after one of the victims shouted a rival gang’s name. A fourth youth was also wounded in the April 10, 1991 gun rampage. On June 6, 1992 Mora was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the multiple murders.

J LWOP Inmate Cindy Brown

Cindy Brown, then seventeen-years-old, and four others were charged in connection with the killing of Ruby Chong, a Long Beach woman who was beaten and stabbed in her home on December 2, 1993.  At trial, there was evidence that one of the co-defendants, Kenny Johnson was trying to strangle the victim with a rope, and that Cindy Brown cut the victim’s throat with a knife. Prior to going to the home, the defendants had planned to rob and kill the victim.

Cindy was convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances of committing the slaying during commission of a burglary and robbery and was sentenced to life without possibility of parole on December 10, 1996.

J LWOP Inmate Amy Lynn Preasmyer

A jury found Amy Lynn Preasmyer guilty of the August 12, 1997 special circumstance, lying in wait murder of her then fiancé, Richard Cowles, Jr.; conspiracy to commit murder; and solicitation of murder. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on February 5, 2008. She was successful in an appeal to reverse the solicitation of murder conviction on the grounds that it was time barred, but the appellate court confirmed the special circumstance first degree murder conviction in April of 2010.  At the time of Cowles’ murder, Preasmyer was sixteen and pregnant.

Amy’s friends, Jennifer Kellogg and Sara Chapin, stayed at  Ricky and Amy’s apartment  for about one week in August 1997, but . Ricky wanted them to leave because he didn’t approve of Jennifer and Sara because they did drugs. This caused friction and on August 11th, Amy. and Ricky fought over whether her friends should leave.

Weeks before August 12, 1997, Jennifer asked Billy Hoffman, a longtime friend of Amy’s, if he would kill somebody. He agreed. Billy met with Jennifer and Amy and they gave Billy gloves and potatoes, which Billy believed would silence noise from the gun, and a picture of the victim. Billy was shown the apartment’s layout, including the master bedroom upstairs. Billy understood that he was to be paid for the killing.

Billy then purchased a gun from a friend, David Asbury. Billy, David and another friend, Joey Green, took the gun to the desert and practiced shooting it before the murder.

On the day of the killing, Amy and Jennifer drove Billy to the apartment, armed with a gun, hammer and claw… Amy had arranged for Ricky to come home at 9:00 pm, and she made sure she was with Ricky’s sister that evening. When he heard Ricky get home, Billy hid behind the bedroom door upstairs. When Ricky entered the room, Billy hit him with the hammer. Billy then shot him in the forehead, followed by two hammer strikes. After the murder, Billy told several people about it, and received help in disposing of the weapons and his clothes.

In 1998, Joey Green was arrested in an unrelated crime, and he gave the police information about the Cowles murder.  Billy was then arrested in April 1998 for Ricky’s murder. At his 1999 trial, after unsuccessfully arguing that Green was the killer, Billy was found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. L later in 2002, Billy wrote to Ricky’s parents and confessed his part in the murder, and later told investigators he would testify against Amy.

Amy was arrested in 2005, and while in custody, she had an incriminating jailhouse conversation with Jennifer that was secretly recorded, and later played at trial.

JLWOP Inmate Boupha Bounpraseuth

Boupha Bounpraseuth was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.  On November 8, 1996, he was sentenced to two consecutive life without possibility of parole terms with enhancements of ten years on each count, and additional concurrent sentences for the attempted murder and other enhancements.

On March 4, 1995, Jennifer Soto, Sergio Soto and Angie Bays were all gunned down by Bounpreaseuth after Jennifer accidentally backed into a parked car while leaving their apartment.  When Jennifer was trying to notify her neighbor about the accident, Bounpraseuth came out of the neighbor’s apartment and started an argument, pulled his gun and fatally shot Jennifer and Sergio and seriously wounded Angie. When the gunfire erupted, the victims’ three children ranging from three months to five years of age were in the car, but escaped injury.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Robert Armstrong told Bounpreaseuth that he had forfeited his right to live in a free society ever, and recommended to prison authorities that he always be incarcerated in maximum security units as the Court found him be so dangerous that the Court felt he would be dangerous to other inmates if allowed to be housed in general population units.

JLWOP Inmates Robert Ramirez and Larry Hernandez

On June 9, 1995 Robert Ramirez and Larry Hernandez murdered Officer Louis Pompei of the Glendora Police Department when the off duty police officer intervened in an armed robbery of a grocery store being committed by Robert Ramirez and Larry Hernandez.

Ramirez, two months shy of eighteen and Hernandez, then 16 planned to commit the armed robbery of Von’s supermarket. Ramirez went to a check stand, pointed his gun at clerk Elvia Lucero and demanded money, with Hernandez robbing Nancy Fabun at the adjoining check stand.   When victim Bryan Ryall, a mentally challenged bagger, didn’t comply with   Ramirez’ command to get down because he didn’t understand it, Ramirez pistol whipped him in the head, striking him repeatedly. At this point, Officer Louis Pompei verbally identified himself as a police officer and demanded the robbers drop their weapons. A gun battle then erupted between the officer and the robbers with the officer shooting each robber, and both robbers shooting the officer multiple times. Officer Pompei had already received multiple gunshot wounds when Ramirez shot him in the back.

Hernandez’s older brother Daniel was the driver of the .getaway car and helped plan the robbery. In order to escape the death penalty which he was eligible to receive because he was an adult, Daniel Hernandez pled guilty for his participation in the crimes in exchange for a 26 years to life term. Although he later tries to withdraw his plea based on an ineffective assistance of counsel argument, his motion was denied.

The police arrested all three males when they found them at an emergency room in a nearby hospital where they had gone to receive medical treatment for their wounds, telling the hospital and authorities that they had been shot in a drive by shooting.

On April3, 1996 Robert Ramirez and Larry Hernandez were sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the murder of Officer Louis Pompei while they were committing a robbery and a ten year enhancement for the personal use of a firearm to run concurrent with the four year, ten year enhancement for assault with a firearm on victim Bryan Ryall.

JLWOP Inmates Bobby White and Derrick Wilson

On June 7, 1996 White and Wilson were sentenced to two concurrent terms of life without possibility of parole for the 1995 murder of Chino Valley Bank clerk Teresa Ann Hernandez and the attempted murder of bank security officer Eddie Scott. Their sentence for the attempted robbery was stayed pending the finality of the judgment on the other counts.

During the attempted robbery of the bank, victim Teresa Hernandez attempted to hide and was cowering on the floor when Derrick Wilson pulled her up by her hair, put a gun to her neck, and both he and White pistol whipped her.  Bobby White then fatally shot Teresa Hernandez.

Two other co-conspirators in the crimes were sentenced for their participation in the crimes. Kareem Brown was an adult at the time and he was also sentenced to life without possibility of parole. Although the trial judge originally sentenced the fourth defendant, Jamon Carr to life without possibility of parole, he vacated the sentence and modified it to life with possibility of parole because he felt Carr was less culpable and he was not personally armed.

JLWOP Inmate Gary Baze

On July 28, 1995 Baze and three of his friends approached a car that was stopped at an intersection, and at gunpoint ordered the driver Vicente San Jose to get in the backseat. Gerald Manny Marshall, then fourteen, had taken a gun belonging to his mother, which the four friends used in the crimes. Baze then drove the victim’s 1988 Toyota to the mountains and told the victim to get out of the car.  He then shot the victim four times, twice in the head and twice in the chest.  After Vicente’s body was found on Mt. Baldy Road by a passerby, investigating officers discovered that the victim died clutching a rosary with a second rosary in his pocket.

The four teenagers then picked up two teenage girls and they then drove to Santa Barbara. During the drive, the four discussed the carjacking and shooting with the girls and showed them the weapon. The car had a flat tire and while the teenagers were at a Texaco station to fix it, they were stopped by the police and the police found the gun under the seat with Vicente San Jose’s wallet beside it.

On March 27, 1996, Baze was sentenced for the first degree murder, the kidnapping for carjacking, and kidnapping for robbery convictions.  He was sentenced to life without possibility

of parole plus a ten year enhancement for the murder, and concurrent term of life with possibility of parole for the kidnapping charges. As Marshall was under sixteen at the time of the crimes, he received a lesser term and was sent to the California Youth Authority.

JLWOP Inmate Raymond Salvador Ramirez

Ramirez was convicted of first degree murder, two counts of second degree robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a robbery.  On August 20, 2003, he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the murder of Carmen Castro plus twelve years on the other counts with the twelve years sentence stayed until the finality of the lwop sentence.

Raymond whose gang moniker was “Baby Lizard” and fellow members of the Puente Street Gang planned to rob a tax preparer’s business. They entered the C. Castro & Associates business on August 20, 2002 where they cut the phone lines and demanded the cell phones of all the occupants. Raymond stayed in the doorway to be the lookout.  The three other gang members inside robbed Carmen Castro and Maria Lado; they forced Maria Lagos, Luis Lagos, and Carmilo Castro on the floor. Carmen Castro was fatally shot during the robbery by co-defendant Juan Soto.  As the gang members were leaving, Raymond Ramirez assaulted Charles Visitor with a deadly weapon so they gang members could make a getaway.

JLWOP Inmate Dennis Barroso

Dennis Barroso was convicted for the 1998 murder and robbery of Gilbert Rivas, three counts of attempted robbery of Sharon Molina, Joseph Molina and Edward Rivas, and the robbery of Czarina Wu and the taking of her car. On September 10, 1999, Barroso was sentenced to life without possibility of parole plus enhancements of 25 years to life for the Rivas murder and robbery, plus 29 years and four months for the other crimes.

Barroso and his fellow gang member Perez jumped out of their car with firearms and approached a group of young pedestrians to rob them.  In the course of attempting the robbery of the pedestrians, Barroso shot and killed Gilbert Rivas. Barroso had asked the group of young people where they were from, and when Gilbert replied “Nowhere. We don’t gang bang”, Barroso shot Gilbert in the stomach and Perez shot him in the head and back.

In another incident, female gang member Solano was driving with Barroso and Perez when they followed Czarina Wu and blocked her car when she parked.  Barroso and Perez approached Wu’s car with a shotgun and handguns, forcing Wu out of her car and stealing her Infiniti. They robbed Wu of her purse, credit cards, watch and necklace.

After robbing Wu, they drove to Rosemead, followed a man into his driveway, attempted to block him  in the driveway, but the man reversed his car and evaded them,  Barroso then fired the shotgun at the fleeing victim.

 

JLWOP Inmates Edwin Cruz and Osvaldo Ramos

On April 8, 2007 Edwin Cruz and Osvaldo Ramos murdered Mychael Whittaker to carry out gang activity for their 12th Street gang. Cruz and co-defendant Ramos lured victim Whittaker to a site for a drug buy, then Cruz shot him four times and stole the drugs. Ramos had called Whittaker to arrange the drug buy and when Whittaker arrived, Cruz killed him.

The jury in the first trial of Osvaldo Ramos for his participation in the murder of Mychael Whittaker could not reach a unanimous verdict and the case against Ramos ended in a mistrial. At the retrial, the jury found Ramos guilty of the first degree murder and robbery of Whittaker. On April 1, 2009, he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole, and 25 years to life for the enhancements.

On May 27, 2007, Edwin Cruz and two fellow gang members, Johnny Mejia and Kevin Mejia picked up another of their gang members, Victor Tejada.  They told Tejada that a rival gang member had killed one of the 12th Street gang members, and they had to retaliate.  Cruz and Tejada had gotten out of the car and gone into an alley when Cruz suddenly ran back to the car. Kevin Mejia then got out as planned and opened fire on Tejeda, fatally shooting him.

On July 15, 2008 Cruz was sentenced to two terms of life without possibility of parole plus fifty additional years for enhancements for the murders of victims Mychael Whittaker and Victor Tejada, and the robbery of victim Whittaker.

JLWOP Inmate Valentino Arenas

On April 21, 2004 California Highway Patrol Sgt. Thomas Steiner was brutally murdered in front of the Pomona courthouse where he had just testified in several traffic cases. Valentino Arenas was searching for a uniformed law enforcement officer to kill as a way of garnering respect from his 12th Street gang and move up the ranks.  He may have also been trying to impress his father who had recently been paroled from prison and who was a longtime Pomona 12th Street gang member.  Arenas, driving a red Nissan, pulled up next to Sgt. Steiner in the parking lot, jumped out and opened fire, shooting Sgt. Steiner multiple times. A witness heard Valentino say “Twelve” before he started firing.

On March 10, 2005 Arenas was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for murdering a police officer in the performance of his duty, plus 25 years for enhancements.

JLWOP Inmate David Galvez

On March 20, 2005 David Galvez whose gang moniker was “Dopey” murdered Naftalie Flores as payback for a fellow Olive Street gang member being killed.  Galvez used a rifle to shoot victim Flores. He then shot victim Anthony Lopez after Lopez flashed gang signs at him.

Galvez was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole on October 25, 2006.

JLWOP Inmate Augustine Zamora

On July 21, 2000 Zamora fatally shot Jose Sanchez during a robbery. Even though the victim handed over the money demanded in the robbery, Zamora shot him in the neck. Jose Sanchez remained in a coma for a month before succumbing to his injuries. Months later Zamora committed   another robbery and struck that victim with a handgun.

On October 24, 2002 Zamora was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the murder during the commission of a robbery, and additional years for the robbery and enhancements of using a firearm.

 

JLWOP Inmate Anthony Hernandez

On March 15, 2010, Hernandez was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the first degree murder and robbery of victim Jose Carillo.

On January 11, 2008, co-defendant Itzel Gutierrez conspired with Erica Rodriquez, Anthony Hernandez and Armando Torres to rob her stepfather by luring him to a motel by promising to supply him with a prostitute and drugs. Erica gained entrance to the motel room by pretending to be the prostitute, A few minutes later Hernandez and Torres knocked on the door and when it was opened, they burst into the room.

Both of the males beat the victim by punching him repeatedly in the head after Hernandez had the victim in a chokehold. Torres then strangled him with a bed sheet.

JLWOP Inmate Gonzalo Marquez Marquez

On September 24, 1984 Marquez was convicted of the 1981 first degree murder of Ascencion Hernandez and 1979 second degree murder of Angel Rodriquez  with the special circumstances finding of multiple murders committed in the course of a robbery and burglary.  Although this was initially a capital case, Marquez is now serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. According to records of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Marquez, who is in his mid forties, is the oldest jlwop inmate incarcerated in California.

Marquez admitted that he fatally shot Angel Rodriquez in the head as Rodriquez was fighting Marquez’ cousin in December of 1979.

On March 15, 1981, Marquez was with Miquel Reyes and Jaime Pulido when the three robbed Ascension Hernandez during a home invasion robbery.  Marquez was convicted of the Hernandez murder under the felony murder rule as he did not personally use the firearm used to kill Hernandez, and stood at the door as the lookout for his two co-defendants.

JLWOP Inmate George Gallegos

George Gallegos and David Martinez were members of “A2M” (“Addicted to Money” or “Addicted to Murder” gang which was affiliated with the Harpy’s gang The S4M (Sex for the Money) gang was a rival of both the A2M and Harpy’s gang.

Brian Verdesoto, a Harpy’s gang member, was killed, and George Gallegos and Martinez went to the funeral together on October 29, 2006.  Several funeral attendees later told police both of them were angry about the Verdesoto murder.

The evening of the funeral   Manuel Vega, Freddie Saravia, and a third male were standing outside a liquor store when a black Nissan stopped near them The passenger asked Vega, “‘What do you write?’”  Vega replied, “‘S4MK.’  When Vega stepped off the sidewalk, he heard shots fired, and   ran to a staircase where he found Saravia, shot in the chest.         Martinez was the driver of the car, and Gallegos was the passenger who fired the shots.

On July 3, 2007, police arrested George Gallegos for another murder.  Immediately following the arrest, officers executed a search of Gallegos’s home pursuant to a warrant and found evidence connected to the Saravia murder.

Gallegos was sentenced to life without possibility of parole on September 29, 2008 for the murder of Freddie Saravia.

JLWOP Inmate Lawrence Cottle

Lawrence Elliot Cottle, a member of the Raymond Avenue Crips gang, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was convicted of the murder of Newport Beach businessman Alan Peterson Sr.

Peterson, 62, was fatally shot in the chest on November 14, 1996 in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box restaurant. Cottle killed Peterson after an attempted theft of Peterson’s car

JLWOP Inmates Isaac Martinez and Juan Solis

Isaac Martinez and Juan Solis were both members in the Cypress Park gang. On January 29, 2006; they went to a party where some of the attendees were from a rival gang, The Avenues.

.Fights started at about 11:00 p.m. which led to the death of the victims. A barrage of gunfire by Martinez and Solis left two young men dead. Victim Jacob Santiago was shot five times in the back and victim Jesse Mendoza was shot sixteen times. Ballistics proved that each defendant had shot both victims.

On November 27, 2007, Martinez and Solis were sentenced to two life without possibility of parole terms with two additional life terms to run consecutive;

JLWOP Inmate Johnney Izaquirre

On August 14, 2003 Johnney Izaquirre was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the drive by first degree murder of Jose Bernal and three counts of attempted murder of victims Lionell Rivera and Jose Chaves, and Eric Garcia. Victims Rivera and Chavez were both shot and wounded, and Izaquirre shot at Eric Garcia, but missed him.

The four victims were all unarmed young men who were leaving an after prom party when they became the innocent victims of a drive by shooting in East Los Angeles on June 1, 2002.

Izaquirre was also sentenced to a twenty five year enhancement for using a firearm in the drive by murder of Jose Bernal, plus three 25 to life consecutive terms on each of the attempted murders, plus additional enhancements

JLWOP Inmate Tyrone Douglas

Tyrone Douglas was sentenced to life without possibility of parole plus 33 years and 8 months for the murder and robbery of Jose Puente. There was also a finding by the jury that the crimes were for the benefit of a gang. Douglas aka “Iceman” had been a gang member of the EC Crips since the age of twelve, and his parents were also gang members.

Douglas and three accomplices committed the robbery and murder of Jose Puente at World Video. Douglas had provided fellow gang member Tony Sandman the gun used in the murder, he planned the robbery, he demanded the victim give them money, and he was the lookout when Sandman shot the victim

Two days after Puente’s murder, Douglas robbed Kragans.  Douglas was also convicted of the robbery of victim Myra Mendez plus the firearm and gang enhancements Douglas was on probation at the time of the robbery/murder of Jose Puente.

JLWOP Inmate William Hodgson

On December 12, 2000 Hodgson and a fellow Harvards gang member and accomplice Victor Salazar robbed a young woman and murdered her as she was arriving home.  Jee Nam, age 20 had pulled into her parents’ home gaining entry to her family’s residence garage with a key card. Salazar approached the victim’s car, shot through the window, and struck the victim twice, fatally wounding her.

Hodgson held the electric gate open for his accomplice acting as a lookout and providing an escape route for his accomplice. He was convicted of murder and robbery and sentenced on December 4, 2002 to life without possibility of parole with a consecutive term of 25 years to life. The jury also found that the crime was committed to benefit a street gang.

JLWOP Inmate Travon Robinson

Travon Robinson was convicted of the April 14, 2000 first degree murder of Larry Robinson and four counts of attempted murder of victims Daniel Orozco, Josue Gonzales, Travyone Mathews, and Juan Calderon.

Robinson was on probation at the time he committed these crimes and was a member of the 59th Street Hoover Crips gang. Victim Larry Robinson (no relation to inmate) was on his porch chatting with three neighbors when Travon walked up to his porch and started firing.  Travon Robinson then reentered his car and he and another gunman continued to fire shots from the car. Ballistics showed two guns were used and fourteen rounds fired

Victim Mathews was affiliated with the Six Deuce East Coast Crops which was a rival gang to the gunman’s gang, but at trial the gang enhancement was stricken as the court found there was not enough proof that the gunman actually knew that victim Mathews was affiliated with the rival gang. None of the other victims had any gang affiliations.

On January 23, 2002, Robinson was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for the murder and four consecutive twenty-five years to life terms for each attempted murder. The enhancements were ordered to run concurrent.

 

JLWOP Inmate Kenny Santana Johnson

Kenny Johnson was sentenced on November 7, 1996 to life without possibility of parole for the murder of Ruby Nell Chung during an attempted robbery that occurred on December 2, 1993.  He was also convicted of the robberies of Suny Min and Hong Min and the attempted robbery of Young Bu Lee. Santana conspired with others to commit a home invasion type robbery, provided the rope that was used to strangle the murder victim Ruby Chung, and participated in the home invasion.

JLWOP Inmate Fernando Lopez

Lopez was convicted of the double murder of victims Jose Pacas and Seung Hong during separate robberies He was also found guilty of personally using a firearm, robbery, and attempted robbery. Lopez received two consecutive terms of life without possibility of parole for the special circumstances murder.

Inmate Ralph Steven Flores

Ralph Steven Flores began his spree of murders in 1999 when he was seventeen and murdered a 16-year-old African-American boy in a racially motivated killing.  Christopher Lynch was slain in 1999 while hosting a party for a young woman in Azusa.  Flores, an Azusa gang member, continued to commit gang related murders over the next several years.

In 2003, Flores murdered Claudia Chenet in the mistaken belief that she had cooperated with police in an investigation that led to the arrest of another gang member. In 2004 in separate incidents a few days apart, Flores murdered. Miguel Reyes outside a Christmas party and a few days later, he murdered Denise Luna.

Flores was convicted of four special circumstances murders, including the 1999 murder of Lynch and was formally sentenced to death.  The judge imposed three death sentences for the murders in 2003 and 2004, as well as a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the 1999 murder. Flores was 17 when Christopher Lynch, the first victim was killed and not eligible for the death penalty for that murder.  The judge also sentenced Flores to 75 years to life for firearms allegations found true by the jury and 10 additional years on additional convictions including assault with a firearm.

JLWOP Inmate Evan Joel Alfred

Evan Alfred, a17-year-old 79 Swans documented gang member,  pleaded guilty  to a 2007 double murder and other felony counts and was sentenced  to life without the possibility of parole, plus 25 years to life

Alfred pleaded guilty to two counts of murder with special circumstances, one count of second-degree robbery and one count of attempting to dissuade a witness

Alfred was seated in the back seat of a Cadillac on June 25, 2007 when he shot the driver in the back of the head and then twice shot a front-seat passenger. The deadly shootings were seemingly motivated by a desire for $1,000 cash carried by the driver and his vehicle. . When the police recovered the vehicle, they found its interior covered in blood and brain matter. Subsequent DNA testing of the defendant’s clothing and shoes – which also were covered in blood – tied him to the murders.

JLWOP Inmate Eli Arana

Eli Aranas, a Compton gang member, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for his role in the May 8, 1997 murders of Laura Reyes and her 3-year-old daughter Celeste, who were killed by the same stray bullet from a semiautomatic rifle as they sat in their Rancho Dominguez home.

The two victims were in their living room in front of the television when a .45-caliber bullet from a Marlin rifle equipped with a 17-round magazine penetrated a wooden fence, crashed through a window and struck them both.

Members of Arana’s gang in Compton fired about 40 rounds from a Marlin weapon and an SKS assault rifle at a rival gang, which had gathered near the Reyes home.

The Reyes family who were not affiliated with gangs was the innocent victims of a rivalry between two gangs. Evidence was presented that Arana instigated the confrontation and drove the gunmen to the scene.  Arana was also convicted of five counts of attempted murder in connection with the attack on the rival gang and three counts of assault

The confrontation between the rival gangs happened when Arana drove by Frailer Street and saw his rivals gathered in front of a gang member’s house. Arana immediately drove to his neighborhood to pick up members of his own gang for an attack on the rival gang. Arana was not charged as the shooter,  but was convicted based on evidence that he drove the car and planned the ambush that sent  the  barrage of  gunfire into the neighborhood, including the fatal shot into the Reyes home. “He was driving the car when the drive by shooting occurred

Reyes was sitting on her couch when a .45-caliber bullet fired 400 feet away ripped through a window of her home. Her young daughter was playing nearby when the bullet struck both in the head. Elijio Reyes was in the house when his wife and daughter were shot but escaped harm.

Victim Oscar Rivas was standing near an intersection when he was shot by the spray of gunfire.

JLWOP Inmate Dukwan Adderley

Dukwan Adderley and a  23 year-old accomplice   Jamar Manard killed a 56-year-old cab driver in the course of a robbery on April 15, 2006.  Edward Sweatt of Palmdale was shot with in the head   as he drove his cab in Lancaster.
Adderley was convicted of first degree murder and robbery and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. In March of 2011, an appellate court remanded the case back for sentencing after finding the lower court erroneously believed its sentencing option was mandatory rather than discretionary.

The appellate court found there was ample evidence that Adderley willingly was a major participant in the robbery.  After Manard asked Adderley and another friend Ramsey to join him in the robbery, Ramsey declined to participate and advised Manard and Adderley not to do it.  Adderley voluntarily joined Manard and intended to participate in the robbery without any persuasion or coercion from Manard and with full knowledge they were going to rob a cab driver.   If Adderley did not initially possess the gun, he knew that Manard had a gun. The Court of Appeal further found that Adderley’s assertion he did not shoot the driver is contradicted by his adoptive admission at a friend’s house after the robbery.  When Manard told Ramsey that Adderley killed the cab driver, Adderley did not correct or refute Mansard’s statement.  Moreover, later that evening, Adderley confirmed that he shot and killed the driver by stating, “I did it,” to Ramsey.  Even if it is assumed Adderley did not pull the trigger, Adderley pointed the gun at the driver’s head when Manard demanded the driver’s money without any direction from Manard and in furtherance of the effort to commit the robbery.

JLWOP Inmate Alfonso Aranda

On June 20, 1999, Alfonso Aranda shot and killed Israel Monge Reynoso and tried to kill Francisco Martinez in a drive-by gang shooting, Aranda was a member of the Breed Street gang and his victims were members of a rival gang, the East L.A. Trece.
Aranda was convicted of murder and attempted murder and the jury found true the special allegations that the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang and that he personally discharged a firearm. He was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for murder, plus 25 years for causing great bodily injury by personally discharging a gun plus three years for the gang enhancement. The court also imposed a consecutive life sentence with possibility of parole for the attempted murder.

JLWOP Inmate Ung Bang

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. D. Smith sentenced Ung Bang , to life without  possibility of parole in the shooting deaths of Dennis Hang and Dennis Baum. Bang was sixteen at the time of the murders and his two co-defendants , Vi Quoc Chau and Cuong were 21 and  18-years-old respectively. Vi Quoc Chau was sentenced to 52 years to life in prison, and Cuong Phan was sentenced to  32 years to life in prison.  Bang and Chau were convicted of first-degree murder and Phan was convicted of second-degree murder for the shootings, in which they crashed a 1994 graduation party seeking to avenge a fellow Asian Boyz gang member who had been killed earlier. Don Sam Hac , then 18, was convicted in a separate trial of first-degree murder and as the second gunman also received life without possibility of parole. The two gunman were also convicted of seven counts of attempted murder.

David Hang  and Dennis Buam were fatally shot  as they watched television with a large group of people at the party. Seven other party guests were also injured. There were no rival gang members at the party although more than 100 people were guests. A group of  gang members who had been kicked out of the party earlier  returned as it was ending and Bang and Hac opened fire on the unsuspecting partygoers  with two AK47s .

JLWOP Inmate Diego Avendano

Avendano was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of premeditated attempted m murder with the special allegations of multiple murders, gang and firearm enhancements true. He was sentenced to two life without possibility of parole terms  plus a consecutive term of 25 years to life for a firearm enhancement, and  life with the possibility of parole with a 15-year minimum parole eligibility term for the gang enhancement.

The shootings occurred as  a gang-related  drive-by shooting by the Watts Varrio Grape Street (Grape Street) gang members against members of the rival Killen Mob (K-Mob) gang.

On December 2, 2004, four K-Mob gang members Nazario Mejia, Neftali Pineda, his younger brother, and Arturo Quezada were hanging out  when a car stopped nearby. The occupants of the car  called out Grape Street and F-k K-Mob, and Mejia yelled back, F-k Grape Street. Mejia and two of his fellow gang members  jumped into a car and followed  the other vehicle , but lost  sight of the  car.  The three drove around for about five minutes, crossed out Grape Street graffiti, and put up K-Mob graffiti, including 187, which meant murder and a threat.

Quezada then drove Mejia and Pineda to their home. Before the latter could exit, the other car came from behind and pulled up to the driver’s side of Quezadas’ car. Mejia noticed the front passenger window roll down about halfway and saw Avendano  pull out a gun. Mejia ducked after the first shot and heard a total of nine shots. Pineda and Quezada died from multiple gunshot wounds but  Mejia was not wounded.

Avendano told other gang members he had committed the shootings, and while in jail, a note was recovered by deputies in which Avendano wrote “they got me for two murder[s] today that I did f[-]king do” and was signed at the bottom with his  gang moniker.

JLWOP Inmate Andre Copeland

.Copeland was found guilty of two counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and five counts of assault with a firearm in connection with five shootings in a three month crime spree in 2002. A prosecutor called Copeland “Public Enemy No. 1 in Long Beach’ and a Long Beach judge equated him to a serial killer.  Copeland’s murder victims Luciano Ramirez and Paul Griego Jr. were random innocent victims who  were simply at the wrong places at the wrong times.. Ramirez, 18, was attending a Lakewood High School graduation party May 31, 2002  when Copeland opened fire on him and four of his friends. Griego, 17, was murdered when he was  buying a used car on July 6, 2002, when Copeland shot him and the car’s owner.  Copeland was 17 at the time of the crimes and coincidentally shared the exact same birthday as victim Paul Griego.

Copeland was  a member of a Crips gang and targeted mostly Hispanic victims. The last of Copeland’s shooting victims Misael Espinoza was shot in the head  while walking on the sidewalk. Espinoza lost an eye in the attack, and his head was left deformed, but he survived the shooting and  lived to identify his attacker in court.

JLWOP Inmate Steven Cuellar

Steven Cuellar and his co-defendant Christian Vega were both sentenced to  life-without-parole sentences  for the 2006 murder of Simon Khalil, the co-owner of the Maple Market in Los Angeles. The jury found true the special circumstances that both men committed the murder in the commission of a robbery and burglary, and found  an additional special circumstance that Cuellar acted on behalf of a street gang.

Sam Khalil, identified Cuellar as the person who argued with his brother, Simon Khalil, and demanded money. As Sam was calling 911, he heard a gunshot, ran in, and found his brother shot.  There was also a surveillance video, showed that before he was shot, he had been in an argument about a check, which apparently had been stolen from the business it was drawn on.

Four gang members from the Playboys Gang  were involved in the crime. Cuellar had gotten the checks from gang member Oscar Olloqui and the gang members were going to either to cash a check or, if the market would not cash it, to commit robbery. Cuellar and a second gang member  with a shotgun went into the store,   Cuellar admitted to the police that  he  shot the victim .

The four of them drove away, with Olloqui driving.  Cuellar admitted carrying a gun that was given to him by Olloqui, and that he shot Khalifa after an argument about the check he tried to cash.

The defendants were tried before separate juries, so that both defendants’ statements could be introduced. Vega did not testify, but Cuellar did, claiming that he was home with his 14-year-old sister—who corroborated the alibi—at the time of the shooting and that he confessed only because the detective threatened to arrest his mother and have his sisters taken away if he didn’t.

The detective testified on rebuttal, denying the claims. Both juries found the defendants guilty of murder, burglary, attempted robbery, and forgery. Judge Lance Ito sentenced both defendants to life imprisonment without parole for murder and imposed consecutive terms on the other counts.

Justice Mosk, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the evidence, was sufficient to establish the guilt of both defendants, despite Vega’s denial that he was there for a criminal purpose.

Ito, the justice said, did not abuse his discretion in allowing a gang expert to testify that, given the fact that all four of those involved were gang members and that the younger members were armed, the crime was committed as a form of gang activity. It is customary, the expert explained, for younger gang members to arm themselves, and to use their weapons if challenged, in order to impress the older members. Justice Mosk also said there was sufficient evidence to prove the gang-murder special circumstance.

JLWOP Inmate Kimorn Nuth

Kimorn Nuth was a member of the notorious Asian Boyz gang when at the age of sixteen he participated in a 1995 “summer madness” gang rampage which left innocent, random victims dead as well as two rival gang members. The Asian Boyz is a multiethnic gang linked primarily to violent crimes in the San Fernando Valley. Their weapons of choice included assault rifles and handguns.

Nuth was convicted of five murders, two attempted murders and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. He killed victims Estrada, Limon, Peng, Vu and Liao.

Some of the victims killed by the Asian Boyz in these terror filled months were John Gregory killed in a home invasion, Cheng Peng, Paul Vu and Ben Liao, who were mistaken for members of a Taiwanese-based gang victims, Oscar Palis as he and others were heading home from a video arcade, Tony Nguyen who was killed with a shotgun, and Armando Estrada and Miguel Limon, two rival Latino gang members who were shot numerous times after being ambushed.

On April 26, 1996 Nuth he received 3 consecutive life without possibility terms for five murders, plus. 120 years for two attempted murders and gun use enhancements and multiple murder findings.

There were eight Asian Boyz tried and convicted for their roles in these murders. Their ages ranged from 16 to 24.  The co-defendants were Bunthoeun Roeung, Sothi Menh, David Evangalista, Roatha Buth, Son Thanh Bui,  Ky Tony Ngo, and Marvin Mercado.

As Human Right Watch inaccurately reports statistics about adult offenders receiving less time than their juvenile co-defendants the below sentencing for co-defendants is included for informational purposes.

Co-defendant Thanh Bui 6 consecutive life without possibility of parole terms plus 8 life terms with parole plus 41 years

Co-defendant Roatha Buth  5 consecutive terms of life without possibility of parole, 2 life with possibility of parole for attempted murders plus 28 years for gun enhancements

Co-defendant David Evangelista,  6 consecutive life with possibility of parole plus 45 years to life for attempted murders and enhancement, thus not eligible for parole hearing for  135  years

Co-defendant Sothi Menh 3 consecutive life without possibility of parole terms plus 122 years

Co-defendant  Marvin Mercado 8 consecutive terms of life without possibility plus 240 years to life for ten attempted murders

Co-defendant  Ky Tony Ngo . Sentenced to six life terms.

Co-defendant Roeung 3 consecutive life without possibility terms  plus 90 years

It should be noted that immediately before one of the trials began a primary prosecution witness was murdered by members of the Asian Boyz gang. Another former  gang member who was testifying against his former friends in another trial involving these defendants had his father murdered  the night before his testimony,   but the former gang member still testified against the defendants.

.JLWOP Inmate Richard Hodge

The 1993 murder of  a school crossing guard in  caused  outrage across Southern California, and sparked the City of Long Beach to supply all their crossing guard with cell phones.

Richard Hodge was sentenced to  life in prison without the possibility of parole for the slaying of Catherine Tucker, a crossing guard who was found dead in the trunk of her car after she was abducted from her post near Burnett Street and Pacific Avenue. She was shot once in the head.

Hodge, then 17, was found guilty of firing the fatal shot at Tucker.  Hodge and his co-defendant,  Virgil Jason Clarke, then 18 years old,  killed Tucker and stole her car. Tucker had been a   decorated ROTC cadet at  his high school  and he was also sentenced to life without possibility of parole for his role in the slaying.

JLWOP Inmate Reginald Howard

On November 3, 1998, eight robbers , committed an armed robbery at the Big Saver Foods Market  in Los Angeles.  In the commission of the robbery, Howard shot and killed the security guard, Juan Hernandez , and also stole his gun.  The other defendants/gang members were  Jesse Singleton, Amar Mobley,  Tiasha Croslin, Bridges, Denem, Hatter and Joe. Six of the eight robbers belonged to the 69 East Coast Crips. Bridges belonged to a related gang, West Covina Neighborhood Crips, and Croslin, Bridges’ girlfriend, formerly belonged to a gang in San Diego Bridges robbed a cashier, Marissa Ayon,  at gunpoint, stealing money and food stamps which were divided at Hatter’s home after the robbery.

The defendants  were charged with first degree murder and robbery of Hernandez in counts one and two, and robbery of the cashier in count three.

Marissa Ayon, a cashier at the market, testified she saw the security guard,  Juan Hernandez,  struggling with two males. After she heard a shot, she saw one of the males ran from the market. She ran to the manager’s office but it was locked before she could get inside.  Bridges then  took Ayon at gunpoint  to the cash registers and forced her to empty the contents of two registers.

At trial Croslin testified that on the morning of November 3, 1998, she and co-defendant Bridges  drove  to Hatter’s home  where the  co-defendants all  began to plan a  robbery.  Bridges told Croslin to get into a car with Hatter, and  Hatter and Croslin then drove  the Regal to the Best Saver Foods Market. Croslin understood they were going to commit a robbery.  Hatter and Croslin went inside, made a purchase, and then left the store.  They drove past a Cutlass driven by co-defendant Joe and a Trans-Am driven by co-defendant Mobley parked on 58th Street. Hatter’s purpose in driving along 58th Street was to indicate to the other co-defendants  it was okay to rob the market. Shortly thereafter, Hatter and Croslin drove past the market and saw co-defendants  running from it.

After the robbery, all participants in the robbery returned to Hatter’s residence. Croslin testified at trial that Howard was pacing and repeatedly said, in a scared manner, “I killed him, I killed him.” They divided the loot among themselves and split up.

Croslin did not learn of the death of the security guard until  later when she saw the news on television. Croslin initially faced a term of life without the possibility of parole for her role in the crimes. However, she pleaded no contest to one count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of robbery in exchange for a prison term of 12 years and her truthful testimony at trial.

The trial court sentenced Howard and the remaining codefendants to a term of life without the possibility of parole for special circumstance murder, plus a consecutive term of 25 years to life for the  firearm  enhancement.

JLWOP Inmate Elizabeth Lozano

Read this coverage in the LA Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/25/nation/la-na-court-juveniles-20120226

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