BURBANK – More than two years after 16-year-old Sammantha Salas was gunned during a string of racially charged gang shootings in Monrovia, jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of two men charged with her murder.
“Well, it’s finally happening,” said Janette Chavez, Salas’ mother.
The teenager was shot to death by two masked gunman in January 2008 as part of what investigators believe was a string of retaliatory shootings between a black and Latino gangs in Monrovia.
Two cousins, 28-year-old Nickelis Blackwell and 24-year-old Rayshawn Blackwell, are accused of shooting Salas to death as she was walking with a friend near her father’s home in unincorporated Monrovia.
Chavez spent Monday waiting for a jury to be picked, and she said that based on the evidence she heard in the preliminary hearing, she hopes that jury convicts both Blackwells of murder.
“I want them in prison for the rest of their lives so another family doesn’t have to suffer the loss that we did,” Chavez said.
The trial was moved to Burbank last week because no courtrooms in Pasadena were prepared to handle a case that attorneys believe could last three weeks, prosecutors said.
A witness in the preliminary hearing for the Blackwells said the cousins confessed to the crime the night of the shooting.