ROSEMEAD — Two admitted gang members gang members from Whittier and Montebello are awaiting trial in connection with the beating and robbery of an 82-year-old Rosemead man who ultimately died from his injuries, officials said Saturday.
Robert Hewitt was found robbed and badly beaten Nov. 5, 2007, inside the garage of his home in the 8500 block of Guess Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“He remained in a coma until being pronounced dead 11 months later (Oct. 17, 2008) from injuries sustained in the robbery,” Lt. Mike Rosson of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said in a written statement.
Though detectives had some initial clues to follow and identified suspects, the case grew cold due to a lack of evidence, Rosson said.
New revelations in the case earlier this month led to the arrests of Adrian Gardea, 26, of Whittier and Leonardo Alegre, 36, of Montebello on suspicion of murder, robbery and burglary, investigators said. The men are each also accused of the special allegation of crimes against the elderly.
They were both arrested May 10 by deputies from the Sheriff’s Surveillance/Apprehension Team, according to county booking records.
They were arraigned May 14 in El Monte Superior Court and were scheduled for another hearing in their case June 4, according to officials and records.
As detectives initially investigated the crime, “Possible suspects, who attempted to use the victim’s stolen credit cards after the robbery, were identified and interviewed, but could not be tied directly to the robbery or murder,” Rosson said.
Biological evidence from the scene also pointed to one of the men caught trying to use the stolen credit cards, the lieutenant said, and helped investigators identify a second suspect and a vehicle believed to have been involved in the killing.
“However, there was not enough evidence to obtain a criminal filing for the robbery or murder, and the case went cold for several years,” Rosson said.
“In May, 2012, investigators (Dan) McElderry and (Ken) Perry were able to gain additional information though investigative techniques, which led to the arrest of the two suspects,” he said.
Officials released no further details on what new information recently came to light in the investigation.
Both Gardea and Alegre are “admitted gang members from the San Gabriel Valley area,” Rosson said, though their specific gang affiliations were not disclosed.
According to county booking records, both suspects were being held without bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.