The one-man Azusa crime wave known as Ralph “Swifty” Flores, 26, received the death penalty Tuesday, as Tribune night guy Brian Day reported:
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Ian Phan, said Flores deserves to be put to death, “Because he smirks when he plans to kill people, he laughs when he does it, and he brags about it afterward. That’s what the evidence showed.”
She added that Flores has shown no compunction for his crimes, as he demonstrated by assaulting a sheriff’s deputy before the trial began and ordering a “hit” on a deputy during the jury selection process.
Flores sat silently and motionless as the verdict was read, Hanisee said. He showed no reaction at all, she added.
Defense attorney Pierpont M. Laidley said he believes negative feeling toward gang members in general caused jurors to overlook problems in the prosecutions case. “That’s why I feel my guy was lynched,” he said.
Los Angeles Times’ EME expert Sam Quinones extensively covered the trial and put some context in his story about the significance of the sentence and the effect of Flores’ crime wave on Azusa politics. Quinones also notes the connection between Azusa 13 and Jacques Padilla, an Azusa emero who’s been in the news lately. Here’s a snippet from the Times:
For Azusa, the case marks the end to a violent chapter in which a handful of gang members called the “trigger clique” terrorized the town with a series of shootings, killings, robberies and hate crimes targeting blacks.
Their rampage lasted from 1999 to 2004.
Besides Flores, seven other Azusa 13 gang members were convicted of the crimes and sentenced to lengthy prison terms — five of them in one 2004 trial.
“It was a violent time for the city,” said Sgt. Mike Bertelsen, Azusa’s gang expert. “We were having a murder a month at the end of 2002.”
What brought this violent period to an end “was a combination of citizens, the clergy, City Council and police all working together,” said City Manager Francis Delach. “I think that had a big impact.”
Azusa’s experience shows how a few gang members following directives from the Mexican Mafia prison gang can become a public policy issue, scaring residents while taxing the budget and police resources of an otherwise peaceful town.
The story further points out how, on orders from gangsters in state prison, members of Azusa 13 targeted black living in, and around, Azusa.
As far as I’m concerned this is another clear example of a race war that civic leaders and law enforcement claims isnt’ happening.