Gang member sentenced for fatal stabbing at La Habra Halloween party

Brian Day (Whittier Daily News) | July 27, 2012

SANTA ANA – A judge sentenced a La Habra gang member to 15 years to life in prison Friday for the fatal beating and stabbing of an 18-year-old son of two Los Angeles police detectives at a Halloween party.

Steven Salvador Hernandez, 20, was convicted in May of second-degree murder and street terrorism for the Oct. 31, 2009, death of 18-year-old Joshua Mora-Rodriguez in the 1000 block of East Francis Avenue in La Habra.

The Orange County Superior Court jury also found true the special allegation that the crime was carried out for the benefit of a street gang.

The victim, however, had no gang ties, authorities said. He had only recently graduated high school and was preparing to join the Army when he was killed.

“During the sentencing (Friday), Mora-Rodriguez’s mother, stepfather and uncle gave victim impact statements to the court describing the heartbreaking loss of Mora-Rodriguez,” Orange County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.

“The victim’s mother tearfully explained that, despite working as a police detective and frequently working with murder victims, she never expected to be the one losing her son,” the statement said. “She also said that she felt sorry for the defendant’s parents because they didn’t look after their son and raise him to be a better man instead of a murderer.”

Two other young men are still awaiting trial in connection with the slaying, officials said.

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