Instigator sentenced in fatal Pomona shooting

POMONA — An 18-year-old man described by prosecutors as the instigator in a fatal shooting was sentenced Thursday to 50 years to life in state prison.

Vincent Lopez was convicted of first-degree murder Sept. 2 in connection with the Aug. 14, 2010 shooting death in Pomona of 19-year-old Ramiro Chavez.

Authorities said Lopez, who’s affiliated with a La Puente-area gang, drove around Pomona with two friends after telling them he wanted to “put in work” for his gang.

At about 12:45 a.m. the group encountered Chavez standing on the sidewalk in the 500 block of Weber Street.

Lopez and one of his friends, 21-year-old Miguel Ayala, confronted Chavez armed with handguns, and Lopez asked Chavez if he was a member of a gang, prosecutors said.

Chavez told the men he was a member of a small party crew, and Lopez responded by shooting Chavez several times. Ayala then did the same at Lopez’s suggestion, prosecutors said.

At Lopez’s sentencing Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, Judge Bruce F. Marrs said Chavez suffered 14 gunshot wounds, seven of which would have alone been fatal.

Lopez’s prison sentence includes 25 years to life for first-degree murder, and another 25 years to life because he used a firearm in the course of the murder. He will be eligible for parole in 2060.

Ayala pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder, and he was sentenced last week to 35 years to life in prison.

The driver in the incident, 24-year-old Jose Rojas Martinez, pleaded no contest to acting as an accessory and was sentenced in July to three years in prison, a prosecutor said.

The three defendants were arrested the same day as the shooting. Two guns in their van were later linked to the shooting through ballistics testing, a prosecutor said.

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Big-rig driver charged with vehicular manslaughter in 14-car pileup

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A big-rig driver has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter for allegedly causing a 14-car pileup on the 210 Freeway, killing two men.

Cheryl Ann Blacksmith, 56, allegedly failed to notice cars stopped in front her on Nov. 18, 2010 and rear-ended the vehicles on the eastbound lanes of the freeway near Mountain Avenue in Upland, according to a police report contained in her court file.

The first vehicle she struck, a 1993 Ford F-150 pickup, overturned and became lodged in the front end of Blacksmith’s big-rig. The pickup caught fire and was pushed by the big-rig for the duration of the pileup.

Two people in the pickup burned to death. Alfredo Lopez Gonzalez, 47, and Jorge Alfaro, 27, were pronounced dead at the scene and were identified through dental records.

Blacksmith, of Mojave Valley, Ariz., has pleaded not guilty to the two felony counts. She is free on $100,000 bail and is next due Oct. 13 in West Valley Superior Court.

Blacksmith told a California Highway Patrol officer that in the 24-hour period preceding the crash, she and her husband exchanged driving duties traveling from Wagon Wheel, New Mexico to Carson, where her truck was loaded with goods to be delivered to New York City.

She was on her way to Barstow, where she planned to refuel, when the traffic collision occurred at about 6 p.m., according to the police report in her court file.

Thirteen vehicles besides Blacksmith’s big-rig were involved in the collision, and two people were hospitalized.

Blacksmith, who estimated she was driving 55 mph, said “she was unsure if ‘people’ were stopped in front of her, but all of a sudden she was crashing,” the report said.

Blacksmith told an officer she was not sleepy or impaired or distracted on her cellphone, and she said the only medication she had taken was for high blood pressure. An officer noted Blacksmith’s apparent lack of impairment.

“At the time of this interview I noted no abnormalities with Blacksmith’s behavior and or any indication of an impaired mental state,” the officer wrote in the report.

Blacksmith told officers her big-rig had no mechanical problems. She said that about three weeks prior to the crash, her brakes were replaced and new tires were installed.

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Sentencing postponed in Montclair nightclub killing

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A sentencing hearing for two men convicted in a fatal Montclair nightclub shooting was postponed Friday to Nov. 4.

Esteban Hernandez, 27, and Armando Ledesma, 24, were scheduled to be sentenced in West Valley Superior Court. Both men pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in June in connection with the fatal shooting Jan. 13, 2009 of 31-year-old Rafaela Davila.

Hernandez and Ledesma, both alleged members of an Ontario street gang, were accused of participating in Davila’s shooting death in the parking lot outside El Encanto Night Club, 10555 Mills Ave., which has since been renamed El Capo Night Club.

Davila, of Pomona, allegedly identified herself as a member of another gang leading up to the shooting, prosecutors said.

Hernandez and Ledesma each entered their no contest pleas as part of plea agreements with prosecutors. Hernandez’s agreement carried a 16-year state prison sentence, while Ledesma’s agreement carried an 11-year sentence.

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Man sentenced in Pomona killing

POMONA — A man was sentenced to 35 years to life in state prison Wednesday for his involvement in the fatal shooting last year of 19-year-old Ramiro Chavez.

Miguel Ayala, of Pomona, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder two weeks ago as his trial was set to begin. He was sentenced by Judge Bruce F. Marrs in Pomona Superior Court.

According to prosecutors, Ayala and another man each shot Chavez about three times on Aug. 14, 2010 in the 500 block of Weber Street in Pomona.

Ayala and his convicted accomplice, 18-year-old Vincent Lopez of Pomona, shot Chavez at about 12:45 a.m. after asking him whether he was a member of a gang, prosecutors said.

Chavez, a Pomona resident, said he was a member of a small “party crew,” according to prosecutors.

A jury convicted Lopez, an alleged gang member, of first-degree murder for his involvement in the killing. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.

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Man pleads no contest in girlfriend’s overdose death

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An Ontario man has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in connection with his girlfriend’s death in 2007 from a drug overdose.

Andrew Girvan, 34, entered the plea Friday in West Valley Superior Court as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that carries a 6-year prison sentence. Girvan is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9.

Prosecutors accused Girvan of supplying drugs to his girlfriend, 23-year-old Miranda Daly of Corona, and thwarting others’ efforts to help her when it was clear she had overdosed and her condition was deteriorating.

During Daly’s overdose on cocaine and Ecstasy, Girvan walked around his home with a gun and threatened to kill other guests who suggested they call 9-1-1.

Daly died on Aug. 13, 2007 at Girvan’s home in the 2500 block of South Imperial Avenue.

Prosecutors charged Girvan with murder, and fought to keep the charge in place after an early setback.

A West Valley Superior Court judge dismissed the murder charge in 2008, citing insufficient evidence, and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office successfully appealed the ruling and had the murder charge reinstated.

At the time, prosecutors insisted Daly’s death was a murder, but on Monday a prosecutor said that after looking closely at the evidence, he felt voluntary manslaughter was the correct charge.

“I felt that’s what the evidence showed,” said Deputy District Attorney Michael Dowd.

Dowd said he didn’t believe he could prove that Girvan intended to kill Daly, which he said is necessary for a murder conviction.

“I think he’s responsible for her death, but that’s different than intending to kill somebody,” Dowd said.

Daly’s family and other supporters were unhappy with Girvan’s plea agreement, and one of her supporters voiced their disapproval during Friday’s court hearing, Dowd said.

Because Girvan has already been in custody for several years awaiting trial, he will only spend a little more than a year in custody before he is released, Dowd said.

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