Jury finds trio guilty in slaying

Jury finds trio guilty in slaying
Victim was strangled, burned
By Karen Maeshiro
Staff Writer

Friday, March 26, 2004 – LANCASTER — Three men were convicted Friday of murder in the gruesome gang-related slaying of a young Lancaster man who was strangled and set on fire beside a dirt road.

Cousins Aaron Sobalvarro, 25, and Diego Sobalvarro, 24, were convicted of first-degree murder by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that deliberated 1 days.

Co-defendant Dewayne Strong, 22, was convicted of second-degree murder.

“I am very pleased with the results. All of us that were involved feel that justice has been done between myself, the detectives and the family,” Deputy District Attorney Carlos Chung said.

A fourth defendant, Nicolas Koufos, 22, was convicted Feb. 17 of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

The four men were charged in the August 2002 slaying of 22-year-old Carlos Ochoa. Prosecutors believe the killing was over a drug deal.

Ochoa’s body was burned beyond recognition and found in a field on the outskirts of west Lancaster, propped against a utility pole.

Each of the Sobalvarros faces 25 years to life in prison and Strong 15 years to life in prison, Chung said. Sentencing is set for April 16.

Strong’s first trial ended in mistrial after jurors deadlocked 10-2 in favor of guilty on a murder charge.

Officials say Ochoa’s killers believed he was going to give investigators information about another case pointing to them as possible suspects in a crime, and killed him before he could turn over any more information.

Ochoa was killed 10 days after he was released from jail after an arrest on suspicion of burglary.

Strong and Koufos were arrested three months later during a search of a Lancaster apartment complex by sheriff’s deputies looking for a rape suspect. They were at the apartment where the rape suspect was seen.

Strong had been arrested in Lancaster on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs less than two hours before Ochoa’s body was found.

Aaron Sobalvarro was arrested in Oregon by a special FBI task force that had been searching for him.

Diego Sobalvarro was arrested in Nevada, prosecutors said.

stef Posted by on Mar 26 2004. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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