Thursday, May 22, 2003
Court of Appeal Upholds Murder Conviction of ‘Lookout’ in Maywood Gang Murder
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday affirmed the first degree murder conviction of a Maywood man whom prosecutors said acted as “lookout” while a fellow gang member opened fire on three members of a rival gang with an assault rifle. .
There was substantial evidence that Jovanni Barcelo aided and abetted the murder of Carlos Murillo, Justice Laurence Rubin wrote for Div. Eight.
According to testimony, Barcelo and Christian Mayorga were members of the Maywood Locos, while Murillo, Casanova, and Palomera belonged to the Kansas Street Gang. On March 12, 2000, witnesses said, Mayorga fired perhaps 30 shots at the three men while they were stripping a stolen van in the backyard of a house.
Murillo died of his wounds. Palomera hid under a vehicle and was unharmed, but Casanova sustained minor injuries from ricocheting bullets.
Barcelo, after his arrest, told police that the two gangs generally got along and that he had no intention of being involved in any shooting. He went to the house with Mayorga and Mayorga’s father, he said, because he believed the three men had stolen Mayorga’s father’s car and wanted to help them get it back.
Barcelo said he went to a nearby house that was a gathering place for the Locos, while Mayorga took the car home. A short time later, he said, Mayorga came to the house, obtained a rifle, and took him back to the house.
Barcelo said he understood that it was “payback time” for the theft of the older man’s vehicle.
Casanova, shown photographs by police, identified Mayorga as the shooter and Barcelo as the lookout and said he knew they were Locos. He denied any involvement in a car theft, saying that Murillo and a companion had stolen the car in South Gate earlier that day.
Mayorga and Barcelo were tried by separate juries in a joint trial. Mayorga was also convicted of first degree murder.
Mayorga was acquitted of the attempted murders of Casanova and Palomera, but found guilty of the lesser offense of assault with an assault weapon. He was sentenced to state prison for 62 years, eight months to life.
Barcelo was convicted of first degree murder, and two counts of attempted murder, and found as a special circumstance that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal strike gang. Because the other jury found that allegation “not true” as to Mayorga, Barcelo faced a life-without-parole sentence, even though the shooter did not, but prosecutors moved to strike the finding in the interests of justice.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Torribio then sentenced Barcelo to 60 years to life for the murder, plus two consecutive life terms for attempted murder.
Rubin writing for the Court of Appeal, said there was sufficient evidence to establish that Barcelo not only knew that Mayorga intended to kill, but also intended the killing take place and was thus an aider and abettor.
He cited Barcelo’s interrogation by the police, a tape of which was played at the trial.
According to the tape, Barcelo said he did not want to shoot anyone, but admitted that he knew Mayorga was going to shoot someone. Asked whether it was his intent to “back [Mayorga] up,” Barcelo said “that’s true, I guess.”
Pressing Barcelo, the officer asked “Well, he’s your homeboy, right ñ you’re gonna back him up? Is that true?”
The defendant’s response was “Well, yeah. Yes, sir.”
“This evidence is sufficient to support a finding defendant aided and abetted Mayorga in the murders and attempted murders....Evidence that defendant cut and ran when the shooting started does not compel a contrary result.”
Attorneys on appeal were Daniel Hustwit for the defendant and Deputy Attorneys General Kenneth†C. Byrne and Laura H. Bak-Boychuk for the state.
The case is People v. Barcelo, B157576.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company