For release on October 31, 2012
CONTACT: Kevin Smith
Deputy District Attorney
TWO GANG MEMBERS CONVICTED OF DRIVE-BY MURDER
BULLETS ALMOST STRUCK YOUNG GIRL
A jury this week convicted two Sureno gang members of the drive-by slaying of a rival San Jose gang member who was sitting on his porch. The hail of bullets came within inches of killing a 13-year-old girl and within a few feet of killing the girl’s grandmother.
After a month-long trial, a jury Tuesday found Richard “Sapo” Guerrero, 39, and Israel “Youngster” Lopez, 22, guilty of first-degree murder; shooting into an inhabited dwelling; and assault with a firearm on the 13 year-old girl. All of the charges carried enhancements for use of a firearm and committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Both men face 50 years-to-life in prison when they are sentenced on January 25, 2013.
“When Lopez was arrested, he confessed that he was just putting in “work.” His “work” for the gang was killing a 45-year-old man sitting on his front porch and nearly killing a 13-year-old girl who was doing homework while her grandmother watched a Sharks game,’’ prosecutor Kevin Smith said Wednesday. “Guerrero told the jury that he is a proud Sureno. The jury, by their verdict, has given him the additional label of murderer.”
During the trial, evidence showed that Guerrero, as “shot caller” for the city’s largest subset of Surenos, ordered the killing of Guerrero. His rationale: Resendez was a Norteno living in a Sureno neighborhood.
On the night of March 19, 2008, Lopez and two others drove to the Cape Cod Court home in a stolen car. Two men got out and started firing handguns. Lopez shot Homer Resendez four times, killing him. The bullets whizzed through the house, almost striking the girl and her grandmother, who were in the front room.
Using cell phone text messages and witnesses, police arrested Lopez in June of 2008 and Guerrero, after a police standoff in Sunnyvale that October. In Guerrero’s garage, where he was living, investigators’ found the .357 magnum murder weapon.
Arturo Tadeo Hernandez, the driver of the stolen Honda, was previously found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison. The other shooter, who missed, Miguel Calzada, was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
The Sureno gang members said they expected to earn “Stars” (tattoos) for their murder of a Norteno.