For release on January 6, 2015
SAN JOSE GANG MEMBERS CONVICTED OF DOUBLE MURDER Three San Jose criminal gang members were convicted this week of the 2010 murder of two city men. The slaying came soon after one of the victims gave them a dirty look.
David Boyd, Deputy District Attorney
A Santa Clara County jury on Monday convicted Abel “Shag-E” Herena, 31, and Aaron “Diablo” Lomeli, 24, of the first-degree murders of Phillip Ayala and Alex Rodriguez. Juan Cruz, 31, who referred to himself as “Hitman,” was convicted of second-degree murder. Additional allegations of firearm use and gang enhancements were found to be true. Herena and Lomeli face life without the possibility of parole; Cruz faces over 110 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2015.
“The case is a reminder of continued danger to the public that gang members pose even during chance encounters,” said prosecutor David Boyd. “The District Attorney’s Office remains steadfast in its willingness and desire to hold gang members accountable for the violence they inflict on this community.”
On August 28, 2010, Alex Rodriguez, 27, and Phillip Ayala, 26, who was on his way to visit his pregnant girlfriend - were in the driveway of the Fairways Apartments in San Jose. There they ran into the Norteno gang members, who were leaving a friend’s home after watching a 49ers pre-season game. Witnesses said an intoxicated Ayala “mean-mugged” Lomeli. After a verbal altercation, evidence showed that Lomeli, who felt disrespected, told the other men to “Pull it out!” They did, gunning the pair down. A female acquaintance of the gang members was also shot, leaving her seriously injured as all three defendants fled the scene.
Even though there were two eyewitnesses to the shooting, the killers’ identities were not immediately known. After ten weeks of exhaustive investigation by the San Jose Police Department Homicide Unit, defendants Herena, Lomeli, and Cruz, were arrested for the shooting.
More than 2,500 potential jurors were screened for service on the jury. The trial lasted ten months from its beginning on February 24, 2014, including ten weeks of pre-trial motions and ten weeks of jury selection. The case was presented by Deputy District Attorney Boyd with the assistance of Lt. Loyd Kinsworthy (San Jose Police Department,) Detective Bill Hoyt (Los Gatos Police Department,) and Investigator Michael Whittington (Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.)