Casa Blanca Gang Member Sentenced To Life Without Parole

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Casa Blanca Gang Member Sentenced To Life Without Parole

Post  EVANS STR. GANG on Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:45 am

RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Jurors reject death penalty
11:32 PM PST on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By RICHARD K. DE ATLEY and JOHN ASBURY
The Press-Enterprise

Jurors rejected the death penalty Wednesday for a Riverside gang member they had earlier convicted in the murder of an 11-year-old boy on Christmas Day 2005.

Martin Leyva Valdez, 24, was found guilty Dec. 27 of six felonies, including murder and three counts of attempted murder in the death of Maximiliano Miranda inside his home on Antioch Avenue in Riverside.

Police said the Miranda family had no gang ties and had moved from Garden Grove into the home just days before the shooting.

Valdez had testified he was drunk and mistakenly shot into the Miranda home. He said the gunfire was meant for a rival gang, to avenge the shooting of several of Valdez's fellow gang members the day before.

Jurors, who heard penalty phase testimony from relatives of both Valdez and Maximiliano, came back with a verdict for life in prison. They deliberated for a day and a half.

"In the grand scheme of the death penalty, and the types of crimes for that ultimate punishment, this didn't fit that category," Valdez's attorney Ryan Markson said. He had argued for a manslaughter conviction during the trial.

Maximiliano was killed when a stray bullet pierced the wall of the family's home as they watched television.

His mother Jacqueline Torres had testified the boy had gone into his room and then stumbled into the living room bleeding before he collapsed.

In her Jan. 11 testimony, Torres recalled holding the boy in her arms after he was shot. A photo of her pants, soaked with his blood, was shown to jurors.

"I felt as if my life had been taken away," Torres said, according to a transcript. "That, to me, it felt as if the world had come to and end for me ... I felt like I was living a bad dream, a nightmare."

She has never returned to the house.

"It was an example of how truly innocent victims are killed because of gangs," Deputy District Attorney Samah Shouka said Wednesday. "This child was at home, not on the street. They don't come more innocent than Max Miranda."

Valdez's mother, Rebecca Valdez, also testified. She said Martin's father cycled through heroin addiction, parole violations and prison during her son's early life. She said she had tried to get Martin involved with church and with their extended family, but he was in juvenile hall for firing a gun in a park by the time he was 15.

If he were executed, she said, "He's my son. He's my baby ... and without him, I have nothing. You know, he's -- Martin is everything to me."

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios J. Hernandez II set March 25 for sentencing.

During the emotional trial, Hernandez ordered some members of Valdez's family to stay away from the courthouse and surrounding neighborhood because of emotional outbursts and comments to jurors and to prosecutor Shouka.

Members of the panel had to be questioned about whether they could continue after one incident.

The case had to be retried when a different jury deadlocked last year. Then-judge Paul Zellerbach, who is now district attorney, declared a mistrial.
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Re: Casa Blanca Gang Member Sentenced To Life Without Parole

Post  EVANS STR. GANG on Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:46 am

Life in prison for boy's 2005 Christmas Day killing
By
PE News
on January 19, 2011 1:22 PM



Jurors have ruled that a Riverside gang member should be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of an 11-year-old boy killed on Christmas Day 2005.

Martin Leyva Valdez, 24, faced the death penalty after being convicted last month of six felonies, including murder and three counts of attempted murder for firing into a home and killing Maximiliano Miranda at his home on Antioch Avenue in Riverside. Police said the family had no gang ties.

The guilty verdict was reached Dec. 27 after the case had to be retried. A different jury deadlocked last year. Then-judge Paul Zellerbach declared a mistrial on the murder charges at the time.

Jurors came back this morning and reached a verdict for life in prison after declaring they were at an impasse.

Valdez's attorney, Ryan Markson said jurors reached the verdict based on the lack of Valdez's criminal history prior to the shooting. The defense argued for involuntary manslaughter during the trial.

"In the grand scheme of the death penalty, and the types of crimes for that ultimate punishment, this didn't fit that category," Markson said.

During his first trial, Valdez had said he opened fire on the home by mistake. He said he drunkenly sought revenge on a rival gang who had shot several of his fellow gang members the day before.

Maximiliano was killed when a stray bullet pierced the wall of the family's home as they were watching television. His mother previously testified the boy had gone into his room and stumbled into the living room bleeding, before he collapsed before his mother's outstretched arms.
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The Mistrial

Post  EVANS STR. GANG on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:24 am

Eighth day of deliberations continue for Riverside gang member accused in killing of 11-year-old
Monday, January 4th, 2010.

RIVERSIDE - Jurors are slated today to hold a seventh day of deliberations in the trial of a Riverside man accused of fatally shooting an 11-year-old boy on Christmas night 2005.
Martin Leyva Valdez, 23, is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the death of Max Miranda.
Valdez could face the death penalty if convicted on all counts, plus special circumstance allegations that he committed a violent felony for the benefit of a street gang and used a firearm in the commission of a felony.
The panel that heard evidence in the defendant's roughly 6-week-long trial sent four questions to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach Tuesday.
The inquiries indicated the jury was unclear about the definition of "intent to kill'' and what constitutes a "kill zone.'' Zellerbach allowed both the prosecution and defense 15 minutes each to restate their positions to the jurors.
The judge also repeated instructions about what the law says regarding each issue.
Valdez is accused of shooting into the Antioch Avenue residence occupied by the victim and his family, blasting the single-story house four times with a shotgun loaded with ammunition that fires slugs rather than pellets.
The defendant was intoxicated on the night of the shooting and was unable to understand his actions, according to defense attorney Richard Swanson.
"He was under the influence and went to the location angry about his friend being shot, pulled out the gun and fired at the house,'' Swanson said.
"He is very remorseful about what happened. There was no intent to kill.'' The night before the fatal attack, several of Valdez's friends -- all members of the Casa Blanca Rifa street gang -- were shot and wounded, none seriously, at a party on Willard Way in Riverside.
The shooter, Alex Antonio Moreno, a member of the Hillside gang, bragged about perpetrating the attack and dared Casa Blanca members to come and get him, according to Deputy District Attorney Samah Shouka. Moreno has since been convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder.
He lived in the 6300 block of Antioch Avenue -- the area to which Max Miranda's family had relocated the week the boy was killed.
Swanson said Valdez "took a couple of shots'' at the Miranda home,
thinking he would frighten Moreno.
According to Shouka, the 11-year-old was standing outside his bedroom when a shotgun round tore through his chest. He died at a hospital 30 minutes later. Valdez was arrested at this grandmother's residence in the 8100 block of Diana Avenue two days later.

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Mistrial

Post  EVANS STR. GANG on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:24 am

Mistrial declared in trial of accused gang member killing of 11-year-old
Monday, January 11th, 2010.

RIVERSIDE - A mistrial was declared today in the case of a Riverside man accused of fatally shooting an 11-year-old boy on Christmas night 2005, with jurors saying they were hopelessly deadlocked after nine days of deliberations.
Prosecutors said they intend to retry 23-year-old Martin Leyva Valdez, who is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly firing four shotgun rounds at Max Miranda's home while the boy, his younger brother and parents
were celebrating Christmas.
A trial-readiness conference is scheduled for March 19. "I think the jury's inability to reach a verdict shows (the disconnect) between what the charges are and what the case really is,'' defense attorney Richard Swanson outside the courtroom. "This is not a death penalty case.
There was no specific intent to kill.''
Swanson said the most his client should have faced was a second-degree murder charge.
The District Attorney's Office declined comment.
The five-man, seven-woman jury deadlocked 9-3, but Riverside County Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach did not reveal which way the panel was leaning.
Jurors also deadlocked on three counts of attempted murder, but convicted Valdez of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a felony for the benefit of a street gang.
The robbery was committed hours before the boy was killed, when Valdez took a man's beer at a corner grocery in Riverside.
According to Swanson, Valdez was intoxicated on the night of the shooting and unable to understand his actions.
"He was under the influence and went to the location angry about his friend being shot, pulled out the gun and fired at the house,'' the attorney said earlier.
The night before the fatal attack, several of Valdez's friends -- all members of the Casa Blanca Rifa street gang -- were shot and wounded, none seriously, at a party on Willard Way in Riverside.
The shooter, Alex Antonio Moreno -- a member of the Hillside gang who has since been convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder -- bragged about perpetrating the attack and dared Casa Blanca members to come and get
him, according to Deputy District Attorney Samah Shouka.
Moreno lived in the 6300 block of Antioch Avenue, a few houses away from where Max's family had moved just days before the boy was killed.
According to Shouka, the 11-year-old was standing outside his bedroom when Valdez opened fire on the house. One of the slugs tore through the boy's chest. He died at a hospital 30 minutes later.
A witness identified Valdez leaving the scene in his black Lincoln LS sedan, and he was arrested two days later.
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