Jury recommends death penalty for Pico Rivera pizza parlor killers

PICO RIVERA — A jury Friday recommended that two men who opened fire on a crowded Pico Rivera pizza parlor in 2009, killing three people and wounding seven others, be put to death for their crimes, officials said.
Rudy Ruiz, 34, of Whittier and John Perez, 46, of Pico Rivera were ordered to return to Los Angeles Superior Court July 12 to be sentenced by Judge Robert J. Perry, court and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
A jury convicted the two men last week of the three counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the June 27, 2009, shooting at Falcone’s Pizza in the 9200 block of Slauson Avenue in Pico Rivera. The jury also found true the special allegation of multiple murders, making Perez and Ruiz eligible for the death penalty under state law, as well as the special allegation that the crimes were gang-related.
“Today, jurors recommended the death penalty for both defendants,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said.
The penalty phase of the trial began Monday, and the jury began their deliberations Wednesday, officials said.
“The jurors deliberated approximately two days,” Davila-Morales said. They reached their verdict about 11:15 a.m. Friday, though it was not read until 11:45 in order to give family members time to get to the courthouse for the verdict.
Though the jury recommended that Perez and Ruiz be executed for their crimes, the ultimate decision will be made by Judge Perry, Davila-Morales explained.
Handling prosecutors could not be reached for comment Friday.
Killed in the mass shooting were cousins Garret Dandini, 25, and Tony Dandini, 39, both of Whittier, along with 39-year-old Carlos Carrera of La Habra. Seven other people were wounded by the indiscriminate gunfire.
Ruiz and Lopez opened fire on a crowd at Falcone’s Pizza under the mistaken belief it was a gathering of members of the Mongols motorcycle gang, according to investigators and prosecutors.
But the gathering was actually a fundraiser hosted by the “Old School Riders,” a local motorcycle club detectives said has no ties to gang activity.

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