14-year-old found guilty of murder
Boy who was 12 and in 6th grade at time of crime may be youngest Orange County defendant convicted of murder.
SANTA ANA – A teenager who was only 12 when he backed up his gang member buddies in a retaliation killing has been convicted of first-degree murder.
The defendant, who is now 14, was found guilty by a juvenile court judge Wednesday for his role in the Sept. 11, 2006, shooting death of San Chea, 23.
The boy – who had just entered the sixth grade – did not pull the trigger, but he was convicted of murder under an aiding-and-abetting theory, which means he was involved in a conspiracy to kill by providing support to the shooter.
He is one of the youngest defendants – if not the youngest – in Orange County history to be found guilty of first-degree murder.
"I've never heard of anyone any younger," said Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller, who prosecuted the case. Geller has been prosecuting gang homicide cases for seven years.
Dennis McNerney, whose team of lawyers provides legal representation to juvenile defendants under a contract with the county, said “maybe there has been someone younger, but I've never heard of it.”
His office defended the boy during a two-day trial before Juvenile Court Judge Joy Markman.
And Senior Deputy Public Defender Denise Gragg, a veteran homicide defense attorney who closely monitors murder cases in Orange County, also said she had never heard of anyone so young being convicted of murder.
The teenager faces an Oct. 6 sentencing, at which he could be committed to the California Youth Authority until he is 25, receive a lesser sentence or be placed on probation.
The boy was not quite 12 1/2 years old when he got involved in a flare-up of gang violence in the area near Century High on Sept. 11, 2006.
According to evidence presented at two earlier trials in Orange County Superior Court, the boy joined two members of the Li'l Mini street gang when they sought revenge for the fatal stabbing earlier that day of Oscar Gonzalez, 14.
Witnesses testified that five suspected members of an Asian gang confronted Gonzalez and accused him of crossing out their gang graffiti. Gonzalez, even though he was outnumbered 5 to 1, did not back down. He was stabbed to death in the ensuing fight
Several of his gang member friends, including older brother Sergio Gonzalez, 15, apparently saw Oscar Gonzalez being loaded into an ambulance, according to court testimony. They then quickly met and plotted revenge.
Three hours after the stabbing incident, Sergio Gonzalez, Antonio Barboza, 18, and the 12-year-old boy walked together from their neighborhood into territory claimed by the Asian gangs, according to testimony.
The threesome came across and surrounded Chea, who was not involved in the earlier stabbing, sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car. After a brief exchange of gang taunts, Sergio Gonzalez fired several shots at near point-blank range, killing Chea instantly, according to the testimony.
Sergio Gonzalez was tried as an adult, convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
Barboza ultimately was also convicted of second-degree murder under the aiding and abetting theory, and was also sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
The 12-year-old boy was prosecuted in juvenile court. State law does not allow for defendants that young to be prosecuted as adults or face adult punishments such as life in prison.
Two of the five Asian gang members involved in the stabbing of Oscar Gonzalez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and were given prison terms. They were both 16 years old at the time of the attack.
Two 14-year-old co-defendants in the stabbing incident were found guilty of murder in juvenile court and were given indeterminate sentences with the California Youth Authority.
Nuvuen Rith, 18, the fifth co-defendant and who did the actual stabbing, was tried and convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury determined that he committed the special circumstance of murder for the benefit of his gang.
^I remember reading about this online when it happened. I think someone said the Asian gang is TRG. Thats the only Asian gang I can think of in that area. I didn't kno TRG was beefing like that in Santa Ana. The 14 year old's doing a good amount of time. No slack for the young I guess. Especially if you involved with a murder. I think its standard to be sentenced til 25 in CYA if your a minor and involved with a murder. I've seen other stories about kids being sentenced til their 25 at various ages.