Man shot to death in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Homicide detectives are seeking clues in the slaying of a man found shot to death inside a car in Hacienda Heights on Saturday morning, authorities said.
The deadly shooting was first reported about 8:10 a.m. in a shopping center parking lot in the 15800 block of Gale Avenue, just east of Hacienda Boulevard, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Someone called 911 to report a “person not breathing,” she said in a written statement.
“When deputies arrived, they found the victim seated in the driver seat of a vehicle, suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper torso,” Navarro-Suarez said.
Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of his family, coroner’s officials said.
No suspect description was available, nor were further details regarding the circumstances or of the shooting.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man’s sentence overturned in Pasadena marijuana deal-turned shotgun slaying

LOS ANGELES >> A state appeals court panel on Tuesday overturned a man’s life prison sentence without the possibility of parole for a marijuana deal that turned violent and left a 21-year-old man dead in Pasadena in 2013.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found there was insufficient evidence against John Michael Piepoli Jr. to support the jury’s finding of a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery for the Jan. 15, 2013, shotgun murder of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein of Pasadena.
The appellate court panel ordered the case against Piepoli to be sent back to the trial court for re-sentencing, but it was not immediately clear what sentence he would now face.
Piepoli is one of five men convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Goldstein, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich. He was convicted of murder in November of 2014, and the jury found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the murder was committed during the coarse of a robbery.
The shotgun slaying occurred after the killers lured Goldstein and his brother to Holliston Avenue in Pasadena with a text message stating they wanted to buy marijuana from the brothers, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich.
Peter Parra, 39, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 29, of North Hollywood, and Raymond Frank Conchas, 27, of Covina were each convicted in February of 2015 of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy. The jury also found true the special circumstance of murder during a robbery, as well as the allegations that a shotgun was used in the crime and that the crime was gang-related.
Parra, Cabrera and Conchas each received sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus another 25 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Ricardo Santiago said at the time. Their appeals are still pending.
The Goldstein brother’s fled in their car when the suspect’s pulled a shotgun on them during their meeting, but the killers chased them and caught up with them nearby at Maple Avenue and Chester Street. Parra fired through the windshield of the Goldstein brothers’ car, mortally wounding Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
A fifth defendant, 21-year-old Ward Lacey IV of Pasadena,pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case in July of 2015 and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
In their 28-page ruling, the justices found that Piepoli “did not plan the criminal enterprise that led to Zane’s death,” had no role in supplying any firearms and was not present at the scene of the attempted robbery or the Jan. 15, 2013, shooting of Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
“Under the circumstances here, there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law that appellant was a major participant in the robbery,” the justices wrote.
Piepoli repeatedly told a police detective that he thought the plan was merely to scare Goldstein into turning over his marijuana and he wasn’t aware that Goldstein had been shot until he was informed the next morning by police, according to the ruling.
The justices, however, rejected the defense’s contention that Piepoli’s statements to police should have been excluded from his trial.
A fifth man, Ward Lacey IV, was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
During Piepoli’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich acknowledged that Piepoli was not at the crime scene, but told jurors that he was “equally guilty.”
Piepoli’s trial attorney, William Jacobson, countered that it was “a case that has nothing to do with robbery.”
The defense lawyer told jurors in his closing argument that it was “simply an attempted assassination” stemming from Goldstein’s alleged failure to pay a gang “taxes” for selling marijuana in its territory. He argued that his client was “never part of an agreement to commit a murder” and “never knew what the actual conspiracy was here.”
— By Brian Day and City News Service

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Man shot to death at Norwalk skate park


NORWALK >> A man died in a Saturday night after an argument escalated into a shooting at a Norwalk skate park, authorities said.
The shooting was reported about 8 p.m. at a skate park within Norwalk Park, in the 12200 block of Sproul Street, Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
“Detectives have learned during their investigation that witnesses saw the victim at a skate park with several other people when the victim became involved in an argument with another male,” Jansen said in a written statement. “During the argument, the unknown male suspect produced a handgun and shot the victim multiple times in the torso.”
Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
His identity was withheld pending notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting were available Sunday, and no suspect description was released.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man found fatally shot in car in Uptown Whittier


WHITTIER >> A man was found shot to death behind the steering wheel of a car in Uptown Whittier on Sunday morning, authorities said.
Someone called police just before 9 a.m. to report seeing an unconscious man slumped in the driver seat of a black Lexus sedan parked in the 6300 block of Pickering Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The car was parked inside a residential garage, with the garage door open, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics pronounced the victim, estimated to be 40 years old, dead at the scene, he said. It appeared he had been shot, and the death was being investigated as a homicide.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting was available as the investigation remained in its early stages, the lieutenant said. No suspects were in custody, and no description was known.
Ellis said investigators suspected that the shooting took place several hours before the victim’s body was discovered. Police received calls reporting gunshots earlier in the morning in the same general area, but responding officers found no evidence of a shooting.
It was not clear whether the reports of gunfire were related to the fatal shooting.
Anyone with information can reach the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Covina youth center reflects on slaying, legacy of namesake

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COVINA >> A nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping kids away from gangs, drugs and violence through sports, academic and life mentorship marked a bittersweet milestone on Thursday.
It was the 9th anniversary of the slaying of Manuel “Manny” Moreno, a 26-year-old graphic designer who was gunned down on Nov. 10, 2007, in his hometown of Covina. But out of his tragic death, Moreno’s family launched the Man-e Moreno Foundation in his memory.
The group started helping families individually, then obtained a “mobile teen center” in a trailer before ultimately achieving its goal of opening a permanent teen center, the 212 Academic and Athletic Training Center, at 542 N. 2nd Street in Covina in 2012.
More than 150 young people, from 8-year-olds to college students, as well as 25 adults, now attend the center to make use of state-of-the-art sports training facilities, an academic study hall and other resources.
Covina’s new Police Chief, John Curley, and other city officials were on hand to mark the anniversary.
“(We) marked the nine-year anniversary of Manny’s passing the only way we know how: to continue our healing and also continue our mission,” Man-e Moreno Foundation President Robert Moreno said.
He thanked the many “amazing people” in the community who have helped the Moreno family in their journey to seek justice, as well as to become part of the solution to senseless violence.
The Man-e Moreno Foundation presented Covina City Councilman John King, Covina police Sgt. Anthony Zavala, who is investigating Manny Moreno’s murder, and Covina Police Chief John Curley with certificated of appreciation. The Covina Police Department has been “beyond supportive” of the family in its endeavors, Robert Moreno said.
Looking forward, he said, “We have pledged to continue fighting for a cause as we develop the complete student athlete as well as encourage and challenge the youth in our community to live life with a purpose.”

PHOTO: Covina’s new Police Chief, John Curley, center, meets with members of The Man-E Moreno Foundation’s 212 Training Center as it commemorate the 9th anniversary of the slaying of Manuel “Manny” Moreno, a 26-year-old graphic designer who was gunned in 2007, in Covina on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. The 212 Training Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping kids away from gangs, drugs and violence through sports, academic and life mentoring. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, San Gabriel Valley Tribune/ SCNG)

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Pasadena man charged with murder in alleged DUI crash that killed infant girl on 110 Freeway


LOS ANGELES >> A Pasadena man who was allegedly drunk and on probation for a previous DUI conviction when he rear-ended a car on the 110 Freeway in Elysian Park, killing an infant who was riding as a passenger, has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed a charges of murder, DUI causing injury or death and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent against 26-year-old Jared Hale Lynch Silvestri of Pasadena in connection with Saturday evening’s crash on the northbound 110 Freeway near Stadium Way, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
An arraignment hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court was postponed until Dec. 15, he said.
Four-month-old Melanie Brown of Carson, who was riding as a passenger in a car driven by her grandmother, died at a hospital following the crash, according to California Highway Patrol officials and prosecutors. The grandmother and another 9-year-old granddaughter who was also riding as a passenger were hurt.
The 48-year-old La Crescenta woman was pulling her Chrysler over to the right shoulder when Silvestri approached from behind in a Volkswagen Jetta and slammed into the slow-moving Chrysler at “a high rate of speed”, CHP officials said in a written statement.
A third car became involved in the collision, but the driver was unhurt, according to the CHP.
Paramedics tool the injured grandmother and her two granddaughters were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where the infant girl succumbed to her injuries several hours later.
Silvestri was initially booked on suspicion of drunken driving following the crash, according to the CHP.
But after the young victim died, and it was determined that Silvestri has been convicted of DUI in another case eight months ago, prosecutors ultimately charged the defendant with murder.
Under California Law, a murder charge in a DUI case necessitates an accusation of “implied malice.”
Those convicted of DUI are generally issued what’s known as a Watson advisory upon sentencing. By signing the advisory, the convict is acknowledging that DUI is extremely dangerous to human life, and that if someone is killed as result of the convict’s DUI, prosecutors may file a murder charge.
Silvestri received just such a Watson advisory earlier this year, when he was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in March in a separate case, Santiago said.
He pleaded “no contest” to a count of driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than .08 percent in Pasadena Superior Court in March, Los Angeles County Superior Court. A second charge of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage was dismissed. Silvestri was sentenced to three years of summary probation,fined $390 and ordered to attend a three-month substance abuse counseling program.
If convicted as charged in the new case, Silvestri could face up to 25 years to life in state prison.
According to county booking records, Silvestri was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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UPDATED: Man killed in Baldwin Park drive-by shooting


BALDWIN PARK >> A man died following a drive-by shooting in a residential neighborhood in Baldwin Park late Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 7:05 p.m. in the 14100 block of Clark Street, just west of Baldwin Park Boulevard, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau. The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting Baldwin Park police in the investigation.
Killed was Jason George Teter, 21, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano. His’s city of residence was unavailable.
Teter victim and another man were walking east along Clark Street when a large white SUV pulled up from behind, Deputy Kimberly Alexander said in a written statement.
“One occupant of the SUV produced a handgun and opened fire, striking the victim in the torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene,” she said. The other man was uninjured.
“The suspects’ vehicle was last seen eastbound Clark Street and out of view. There is no suspect description,” Alexander said.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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City, restaurant chain to add to reward in fatal shooting of El Monte fast food worker


EL MONTE >> A reward for information leading to justice for an El Monte man shot to death during a botched robbery at a Jack in the Box restaurant last month continues to grow, as city officials in El Monte and Jack in the Box representatives have announced plans to add to a $20,000 reward already offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, authorities said.
Juan Miguel Vidal, 25, was working at the restaurant about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 when the unidentified, masked gunman jumped over the counter of the restaurant, 9220 Flair Drive, demanded money and immediately opened fire, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
•Video: El Monte fatal shooting
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmugVidal, who was engaged to be married and had recently graduated pharmacy technician school, died from his injuries at a hospital, officials said. His killer fled empty-handed and remains at large. An accomplice believed to have served as the getaway driver of a dark-colored sedan in which the shooter fled is also being sought, Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
In hopes of generating tips from the public, the Los Angeles Count Board of Supervisors authorized a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Vidal’s slaying on Wednesday.
The El Monte City council plans to announce the city will be contributing to the award amount during a press conference on Monday, according to El Monte police Lt. Christopher Cano. The amount the city will be adding was not available.
“Additionally, John Maki, owner of the franchised Jack in the Box restaurant where Juan Vidal worked, and Oscar Hurtado, representing Jack in the Box corporate, both added $5,000.00 dollars each to the reward,” Cano said in a written statement.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man fatally shot in West Whittier


WEST WHITTIER >> A man died following a shooting along Washington Boulevard in West Whittier on Thursday night, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the shooting, which was reported just before midnight in the 11000 block of Washington Boulevard, near Norwalk Boulevard in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The victim, described only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, deputies from the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No further details, including a suspect description, were available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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$20,000 reward offered in slaying of El Monte man during botched restaurant robbery


EL MONTE >> Authorities offered up a $20,000 reward on Wednesday for information in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old worker during a botched robbery at an El Monte Jack in Box restaurant last month.
Juan Manuel Vidal died following the shooting, which took place on Oct. 21 inside the restaurant, 9220 Flair Drive.
He was working about 7:30 p.m. when a masked gunman jumped over the counter, “demanded money, and then shot the victim almost immediately,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. The deadly shooting was caught on video by restaurant surveillance cameras.
“The suspect appeared to panic, jumped back over the counter and fled the location through the north door onto Flair Drive,” he said. No money was obtained.
*Video: Surveillance camera footage of fatal shooting
Vidal, who as engaged and was looking forward to starting a new career having recently graduated pharmacy technician school, succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
His killer remains at large.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to authorize a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the unidentified gunman.
Vidal’s mother, Mary Smay, implored anyone with information to come forward.
“I really want the police to get the man who did this to my son. He needs to pay for all the pain and suffering that he’s caused to so many people… people that loved my son,” she said.
“That man has no heart,” Smay said. “Somebody needs to let the police know where he’s at.”
Sheriff Jim McDonnell also urged anyone with information to do the right thing.
“This is a tragic incident we want to talk about and really, truly ask the public’s help in solving this case,” McDonnell said.
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmug“He was a young man on the right track, doing the right things, all of the right things, working, when this suspect came in and took his life,” the sheriff’s said. “We need the publics help to hold him accountable for what he did and to prevent him from hurting someone else.”
The reward was proposed by Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“There’s little consolation we can offer to Juan’s family and loved ones, but the gunman or people involved are still at large, and we hope this reward, together with other rewards that will be put forward by the city of El Monte and other individuals, that his will help to bring those that are responsible for this death to be held accountable.”
In addition to the gunman, detectives believe at least one accomplice served as a getaway driver in the crime, speeding the killer away in a dark-colored sedan, Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Funds to help Vidal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.

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