POMONA — A 29-year-old gang member Friday admitted murdering a Pomona boy at his fourth birthday party with a stray bullet intended for a group of teenagers, officials said.
Known Compton gang member Pablo Adame shot and killed 3-year-old Ethan Esparza on Nov. 19, 2006, during a birthday party for the young victim, who would have turned 4 the following day.
“On June 4th, 2012, the trial began, however prior to the trial’s end, suspect Pablo Adame (pleaded) guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life,” Pomona police Detective Jen Turpin said.
According to witness testimony heard at Adame’s preliminary hearing in April of 2011, Adame — who was staying with his grandmother in Pomona after being released from prison — had become angry over taunts and stares he received from teenage tagging crew members when he would pass by the area.
It was a group of teenagers who were the intended targets of the shooting, officials said, and a 16-year-old boy was shot in the hip.
But one of the bullets struck Ethan Esparza in the chest as he played with a toy car his grandfather had just given him as a birthday present, according to testimony.
Despite an extensive investigation, detectives were left with no leads in the case for three years, Turpin said.
Detectives obtained new information in late 2009, including tips from the public, that led to the identification and arrest of Adame for the murder in 2010.
PHOTOS of Ethan Esparza: courtesy