Gang member faces death penalty in murder-for-hire plot

April 15, 2010

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in the death penalty trial of a Pacoima gang member accused of being the getaway driver after a Buena Park businessman was kidnapped and killed nearly eight years ago.

Attorneys this week agreed on a 10-woman, two-man Superior Court jury to sit in judgment of Alberto Martinez, 32, who was arrested on Oct. 2, 2002, after he crashed a car while leading Buena Park police on a wild chase through the streets of Orange County after David Montemayor was shot and killed.

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

It is the fourth death penalty trial to get under way in Orange County this year. There were eight death sentences handed down in the county last year.

Martinez’s trial before Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno is the fourth of five trials over Montemayor’s killing.

Two people – Perna and Gerardo Lopez, a Pacoima gang member who was a juvenile at the time of the offense – have been tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

Co-defendant Anthony Navarro, who was convicted of hiring gang members for Perna to do the job, was convicted of first-degree murder plus several special circumstances and was sentenced to death in 2008.

Martinez, now 32, could face the same fate if his jury convicts him of first-degree murder plus the special circumstances of committing murder during an attempted robbery, during a kidnapping or for the benefit of his gang.

Armando Macias, 34, a fifth co-defendant, faces his own death penalty trial later this year for his alleged role in the slaying.

Witnesses testified during the first three trials that Perna negotiated with Navarro to hire gang members to kill her brother after she learned that their father planned to give control of the company business to his son.

The gang members were supposed to benefit from robbing Montemayor using information supplied by Perna, according to testimony, and then kill him so the sister could get the family business.

But the plot went awry 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, according to prosecutors.

Montemayor, who was 44, was gunned down 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, according to prosecutors.

Martinez’ trial is expected to last several weeks.

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1 Comment for “Gang member faces death penalty in murder-for-hire plot”

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