RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An alleged gang member accused of shooting and killing two men in a gang feud has agreed to a plea bargain that carries a nearly 30-year prison sentence.
Victor Marez, 26, was set to stand trial on two counts of murder in West Valley Superior Court on Friday when he opted to plead guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, said Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd.
Prosecutors believe Marez, allegedly a member of the County Line Mafia, was responsible for shooting and killing two men in his gang as they sat in a minivan on Jan. 20, 2005 in the 4200 block of Los Serranos Boulevard in Chino Hills.
One of the murdered men, 18-year-old Henry Valle, had inadvertently burglarized the Pomona home of a shot-caller for the Mexican Mafia who had ties to Pomona’s 12th Street gang.
Following the burglary, the influential gangster “green-lighted” attacks on members of the County Line Mafia, prosecutors believe.
Rather than face retribution from the 12th Street gang, Marez lured Valle to Chino Hills and killed him, prosecutors said.
The other victim, 18-year-old Narisco Perez, apparently did not participate in the burglary, and may have been killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, authorities believe.
Dowd said that the prison sentence Marez will receive — for 29 years and 4 months — is a good resolution to a case that would have been difficult to successfully prosecute at trial.
“Based on the circumstances this is a good disposition,” Dowd said. “This wasn’t an easy case. It was very circumstantial. Getting him 30 years, or close to 30 years, was a pretty good disposition for this case.”
There was no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking Marez to the crime, nor was there direct evidence or eyewitnesses testimony that tied Marez to the killing, Dowd said.
The prosecution’s case would have hinged on three areas of evidence, Dowd said.
Six to eight weeks after the killing, Marez was found in possession of a gun that was proved to be the murder weapon through forensic tests, Dowd said.
But gang members typically pass off guns to one another frequently, so Marez’s possession of the gun doesn’t prove that he fired the gun, Dowd said.
Records from cell phone towers indicate that Marez was near the shooting site when the crime took place, Dowd said.
The prosecution’s key witness was a County Line Mafia member who told police he was present during the burglary, and personally witnessed Marez talk about plans to kill the people responsible for the burglary.
Dowd said the informant, who is in state prison, would have been called to testify at trial, but would have likely been a reluctant witness.
Marez is set to be sentenced on July 23. After being credited for time spent in jail awaiting trial, Marez will have about 22 or 23 years remaining to serve in state prison, Dowd said.
Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.
Here’s Rod Leveque’s initial story on Marez’s case:
Gang feud suspected in C.H. teen deaths
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA) – Sunday, April 23, 2006
Author: Rod Leveque Staff Writer
CHINO HILLS – Two young men shot dead inside a minivan more than a year ago were probably killed in a gang feud that started when one of them unwittingly burglarized the house of a Mexican Mafia gang leader, according to authorities.
Henry Valle and Narciso Perez, both 18, were shot in the head at close range while parked along a normally quiet street in Chino Hills. The case baffled detectives for months, but authorities now have a suspect behind bars and believe they have finally brought closure to the long-unsolved investigation.
“In these matters – gang related murders – nobody talks to us,” said Sgt. T.A. Peters of the San Bernardino County Sheriff homicide detail. “It was very difficult to find witnesses who would cooperate.”
Victor Marez , 23, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in connection with the Jan. 30, 2005 killings.
Marez , who was arrested last month, is scheduled to appear Thursday in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.
Investigators say they believe Marez is a member of the County Line Mafia, a small, low-level and mostly Hispanic Pomona street gang. Both of the victims were also members of the same gang, detectives said.
The police theory of how Marez came to kill two of his homeboys offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of gang politics and street justice.
According to sheriff’s investigative reports, Valle, who went by the nickname “Scrappy,” went to a house on Freda Street in Pomona in early 2004 to fight another young man who he believed lived there.
During the confrontation, Valle crawled through a window of the house and took about 2 ounces of methamphetamine and a television from inside.
What Valle didn’t know is that the house belonged to an influential gangster who is a shot-caller for the Mexican Mafia and has ties to Pomona’s 12th Street gang, according to the reports.
Both are large, deeply-rooted, violent and influential Hispanic gangs.
The gang leader soon discovered who burglarized his home and sought retribution. He gave a “green light” for 12th Street to kill Valle or other members of the County Line Mafia, police believe.
Rather than face the wrath of 12th Street, Marez , and possibly other members of the County Line Mafia, decided to take out Valle themselves, police said.
“(12th Street) told them if they didn’t clean up their own house they would do it for them,” Peters said. “They wanted it to be dealt with.”
Detectives believe Marez lured Valle to the 4200 block of Los Serranos Boulevard in Chino Hills.
They believe Valle and Perez were sitting in the front seat of a 1995 Honda Odyssey eating food from Jack in the Box and drinking beer when Marez shot each of them in the head at close range with a .38 caliber pistol.
Investigators say they don’t believe Perez had any connection to the burglary. They think he was killed only because he happened to be with Valle.
“He was a completely innocent person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Peters said.
Detectives arrested Marez on March 10 this year. He had a .38 caliber gun on him that ballistics test later showed to be the murder weapon.
His cell phone had a photo of the gun as its wallpaper with a caption reading “My true love,” according to police reports.
Cell phone records also show that Marez was using his phone near the crime scene on the night of the killings, according to the police reports.
Marez ‘s attorney, Christian Cruz, did not return several calls seeking comment.
Detectives are still investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Peters at (909) 387-3571.