Second suspect convicted of teen’s slaying outside La Habra Halloween party in 2009

LA HABRA – The second of three gang members accused of fatally beating and slashing the throat of an 18-year-old La Habra man outside a Halloween party in 2009 pleaded guilty to his role in the slaying Thursday, authorities said.
Rene Antonio Lobos, 18, of La Habra was 15 years old when he took part in the Oct. 31, 2009 killing of Joshua Mora-Rodriguez of La Habra, officials said. Mora-Rodriguez, the son of two Los Angeles police detectives, had recently graduated high school and preparing to join the Army at the side of his death. He had no gang ties.
After more than three years of court proceedings, Lobos pleaded guilty Thursday in Santa Ana Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter, and admitted the the sentence-enhancing allegation that the crime was gang-related, Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said. Under a plea agreement, an additional charge of street terrorism was dismissed.
He was immediately sentenced to 16 years in state prison, Emami said.
A total of three young men were charged in connection with the killing.
A jury convicted Steven Salvador Hernandez, 20, of La Habra, in May of second-degree murder and street terrorism for Mora Rodriguez’s killing, officials said. He was sentenced in July to 15 years to life in prison. He was 17 years old at the time of the killing.
A third defendant, 23-year-old Francisco Nuno, has denied the same charges and was due in court May 15 for a pretrial conference and hearing to set a trial date, Emami said.
Though minors at the time of the killing, Lobos and Hernandez were tried as adults.
Mora-Rodriguez was attacked by a group of gang members, which included the three defendants, shortly before midnight on Halloween, 2009, as he left a house party in the 1000 block of East Francis Avenue, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Duff. The party was hosted by a female friend of one of the suspects.
Prior to the fatal attack, two of Mora-Rodriguez’s friends had been involved in a fight by several other young men at the party, Duff said.
As Mora-Rodriguez and his friends were leaving the party, they became involved in an argument, then another fight, with the same group, officials said.
Six to eight gang members joined the attack, in what was described by witnesses as an “ambush,” Duff said.
Lobos beat the victim with a baseball bat while Nuno pummeled Mora-Rodriguez with his fists, the prosecutor said. Hernandez then used a knife to cut Mora-Rodriguez throat, fatally wounding him.

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