UPDATED: Pico Rivera teen and man accused of murder in stabbing death of teen’s father

PICO RIVERA >> A teenage boy previously sought as a “person of interest” in his father’s fatal stabbing in Pico Rivera was arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday, along with a second suspect, authorities said.
Detectives sought Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, 17, of Pico Rivera since his 50-year-old father was found fatally stabbed about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the family home in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Coroner’s officials have not yet released the name of the slain father, however neighbors said he was also named Sergio Gutierrez.
The teenage Gutierrez was detained Sunday morning, along with Jesus Rafael Adame, 18, by Montebello police, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Adame’s city of residence was not available.
After questioning the teen and Adame, detectives arrested them both on suspicion of murder about noon, Sgt. Sean Geske of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
The investigation was ongoing, and detectives continued seeking possible additional suspects, Geske said.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday, and no further details regarding the arrests were available.
Deputies went to the house inside a gated community after a woman described as the suspect’s mother and victim’s wife called 9-1-1 to report a robbery, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies arrived to find the elder Gutierrez mortally wounded in the family room of the home. He had been stabbed several times in the torso.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, Francisco said. It was not clear if anything had been stolen.
The teenage Gutierrez was believed to have been home, along with his mother and another woman who rented a room in the home, when the stabbing took place, Francisco said. But by the time deputies arrived at the scene, both the teen and the family car were missing.
Investigators described the teen as a “person of interest” as they sought him Saturday, stopping short of labeling him a suspect in his father’s slaying.
It was unclear Sunday whether prosecutors would seek to charge the 17-year-old murder suspect as an adult.
According to county booking records, Adame was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Man stabbed to death in his Pico Rivera home; son sought as ‘person of interest’


PICO RIVERA >> A man died after being stabbed inside his home early Saturday, and his teenage son and the family car were missing, authorities said.
The fatal stabbing took place about 1:30 a.m. at a home within a gated community in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The circumstances of the slaying remained a mystery as investigators poured over the scene Saturday afternoon.
“At this time, we don’t know what happened inside this residence,” Francisco said.
Coroner’s officials did not release the name of the 50-year-old stabbing victim, however neighbors identified him as Sergio Gutierrez.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB1His son, 17-year-old Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, was believed to be home at the time of the stabbing, but has not been seen since, Francisco said. Also missing is the family car, a silver, 200 Infiniti with a California license plate of 4MAB667.
The teenage son was not considered a suspect, but was being sought for questioning as a “person of interest,” Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said.
The victim lived at the home with his wife, their son and a woman who rented a room in their home, Francisco said.
Deputies first responded to the home after victim’s wife called 9-1-1 and reported a robbery, Francisco said. Further details regarding the initial 9-1-1 call were not available.
Deputies arrived to discover the homeowner lying in the front family room of the home, suffering from several stab wounds to his torso, Francisco said. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.
There were no signs the home had been broken into or that an intruder had been present, Francisco said. It had not been determined whether anything other than the family car was missing from the home.
Deputies have visited the home more than once in the past for domestic violence calls, however further details of deputies’ previous visits to the home were not available, the lieutenant said.
Neighborhood resident Ariel Acosta, 22, said he grew up with the teenage Sergio Gutierrez.
“It’s sad. I just want to know what happened,” he said.
Acosta described the younger Gutierrez as a “calm” and “quiet” boy who loved soccer, and had previously played for El Rancho High School.
“He’s a normal kid, just like the rest of us,” Acosta said.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB2The neighbor said although he did not know the parents as well, “To me, it was a normal family.”
The father was often seen taking his son to school, or playing soccer with him in the family’s front yard, Acosta said.
Acosta said the husband and wife often walked their pet Chihuahuas in the neighborhood.
Despite Saturday’s tragedy, Acosta said he believed the neighborhood was a safe one.
“I’ve always felt safe in here. I’ve lived here 18 years,” he said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Riverside man fatally shot in El Monte identified

EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 21-year-old Riverside man who was fatally shot when two gunman opened fire on a parked car he was sitting in on an El Monte Street earlier this week.
Jose Manuel Valenzuela died at hospital shortly after Monday’s shooting, which also left another man critically wounded, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The shooting took place shortly after midnight in a residential cul-de-sac in the 2600 block of Sastre Avenue, just north of Fern Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Valenzuela and the surviving victim, a 29-year-old El Monte man, were rear passengers in a parked car with two other occupants when the attackers approached in another car.
Two gunmen exited the approaching car and immediately began shooting into the rear of the victims’ car, Coleman said.
No description of the shooters was available, nor was a description of their car, which investigators said was last seen speeding south on Sastre Avenue.
The victims’ companions drove them to Greater Community Hospital in South El Monte, Coleman said.
Valenzuela succumbed to his injuries about 12:30 p.m., Winter said. The other wounded man was hospitalized in critical condition. An update on his condition was not available.
No further details were released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Gang members sentenced for fatal shooting of Whittier teen

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Two Whittier gang members were each sentenced to spend decades in prison Thursday for the fatal 2012 shooting of a 17-year-old Whittier boy on a busy street corner in what the prosecutor described as an orchestrated gang hit.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Whittier 13 gang members Eudiel Eddie Lopez, 21, and Daniel Cesar Stopani, 20, both of Whittier, Sept. 4 of the murder of Michael Soto of Whittier. Soto was shot to death about 12:30 p.m. on March 26, 2012, at a strip mall at the corner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Judge John Torribio sentenced both killers to the maximum sentence allowed by law, officials said.
Lopez, who was convicted of first-degree murder, was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. Stopani, who was convicted of second-degree murder, received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison.
Torribio ordered each convict to pay $5,000 in restitution to the Victims Compensation Board, and $5,885 to Soto’s mother for funeral costs and lost wages, Ardalani added.
In addition to convicting Lopez and Stopani of Soto’s murder, jurors also found true the special allegations that a gun was used in the crime and that the killing was gang-related, Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford of the District Attorney’s Hardcore Gang Division said.
Lunsford said the shooting stemmed from a brief exchange of words between Lopez and Soto about a month prior to the shooting.
Lopez had told Soto that he was a Whittier 13 gang member, and Soto responded that he did not care. The perceived disrespect was enough to prompt Lopez to target Soto in what Lunsford described as an orchestrated gang execution.
On the day of the killing, Stopani approached Soto from the front as Lopez snuck up behind him, Lunsford said.
Stopani shouted out the name of his gang and punched Soto before Lopez drew a revolver from his waistband and began shooting, the prosecutor said. Lopez continued shooting even after the teen had fallen wounded to the ground.
Lopez was arrested for the killing within hours, officials said. Stopani was interviewed the day of the slaying, but not formally charged until February of 2013.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Mistrial declared in fatal Pasadena barbershop stabbing case

PASADENA >> A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a Pasadena barbershop owner during a robbery in 2011, officials said.
After four days of deliberations, the Pasadena Superior Court jury announced they were deadlocked, and Judge Darrel Mavis declared a mistrial in the murder trial for Davon Moore, 25, of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Prosecutors plan to re-try Moore on the murder charge, he said. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Sept. 25.
Santiago said the jury hung 11-1 in favor of convicting Moore of the first-degree murder of 43-year-old King E. King, who was found shortly after 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2011, lying in a pool of blood behind his business, King King’s Barber and Beauty Salon in the 900 bock of East Washington Boulevard in Pasadena.
In addition to murder, Moore is accused of the special allegations that the killing was committed during the course of a robbery and burglary, and that Moore personally used a knife in the slaying.
The alleged special circumstance of murder during the course of a robbery and burglary made Moore eligible for the death penalty if convicted, though officials declined pursue a capital case against him, Santiago said. If convicted as charged, Moore could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Co-defendant Sabrina King, 21, of Compton, who is not related to King King, pleaded “no contest” in March to charges of voluntary manslaughter and robbery in connection with the slaying. She faces up to 21 years in state prison when she returns to court for sentencing.
Pasadena police initially arrested two men and two women in connection with King’s slaying, however the other two people arrested along with Moore and Sabrina King were subsequently released without charges.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Woman stabbed to death in South Whittier; suspect arrested

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A woman is dead and another is accused of murder after a fight escalated into a stabbing late Friday in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, authorities said.
Michelle Alexis Young, 31, of Los Angeles died following the stabbing, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
The stabbing was first reported as a “woman down” about 10:30 p.m. on a small cul-de-sac in the 11500 block of Obert Avenue, just north of Leffingwell Road, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies arrived to find paramedics already treating Young, who had been stabbed multiple times, officials said
Young was pronounced dead on the sidewalk at 11:12 p.m., Smith said.
“A male adult witness at the scene told deputies that a female approached the victim and started an argument,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The argument escalated into a physical altercation. The female suspect then produced a knife and stabbed the victim several times. The suspect fled the location.”
Soon after, deputies detained another woman who as believed to have been involved in the incident, officials said.
After hours of investigation, detectives arrested Vanessa Rebecca Cella, 28, on suspicion of murder Saturday morning, sheriff’s officials said. Her city of residence was not immediately available.
Cella was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending her scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court, according to county booking records.
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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Whittier gang members convicted of fatal shooting of teen in South Whittier

SOTO_MICHAEL

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A jury convicted two Whittier gang members Thursday for the execution of a Whittier teen in broad daylight at a strip mall in 2012.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury deliberated for less than a day before finding Eudiel Eddie Lopez, 21, and Daniel Cesar Stopani, 20, guilty of the March 26, 2012, slaying of 17-year-old Michael Soto of Whittier, at a strip mall at the coroner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue, in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
“It was a gang hit; orchestrated, planned,” Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said.
The killers approached the murder scene together before splitting up, the prosecutor said. Stopani approached Soto from the front and waited until Lopez took a position just behind the teen. Portions of the incident were captured by a surveillance camera mounted on a nearby bus.
Stopani suddenly shouted out “Whittier 13,” the name of a local street gang,” and punched the Soto
Lopez then pulled a .357 Magnum handgun and opened fire, Lunsford said.
The first two gunshots struck Soto in the face and back, knocking him to the ground, Lunsford said.
“Once he was down, it appears (Lopez” shot him twice more,” the prosecutor said. “He shot him four times in total.”
The jury convicted Lopez of first-degree murder and found true the special allegations that he personally used a gun in the crime, and that the crime was gang-related, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Stopani was convicted of second-degree murder, and the jury found true the special allegations that a gun was used in the crime, and that the crime was gang-related, she said.
The shooting took place shortly after noon at busy strip mall, just across the street from a continuation school that had just let out for the day.
Lunsford said the fatal ambush stemmed from a brief exchange of words between Lopez and Soto about a month prior to the killing, Lunsford said.
Lopez had issued a gang challenge to Soto and told the teen that he was from Whittier 13. Soto responded they he didn’t care what gang Lopez belonged to.
Lopez told investigators the perceived slight was the reason he targeted Soto, Lunsford added.
Soto died at a hospital shortly after he was shot,
Relatives said Soto was not a gang member, and described him as a smart young man who hoped to join the U.S. Marines when he turned 18.
Following the shooting, Lopez and Soto split up, officials said.
Lopez fled north. He ran across a set of train tracks that were muddy due to rain the previous day, Lunsford said. Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators were able to follow Lopez’s muddy footprint to a nearby mobile home park, where he was quickly found and arrested hiding inside a trailer that belonged to a friend.
“He was leaving footprints that led right to the back door of the trailer where he was hiding,” Lunsford said.
Officials found Lopez, the muddy shoes and the gun that was used in the shooting inside, he added.
Stopani fled south from the shooting scene and was found and interviewed by investigators the same day, Lunsford said.
But Stopani was not arrested until February of 2013, after investigators had gathered evidence of his culpability in the killing, according to Lunsford and county booking records.
Lopez and Stopani are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18 in Norwalk Superior Court. Lopez faces a maximum sentenced of 50 years to life in prison, while Stopani could face up to 40 years to life in prison.

PHOTO of Michael Soto, 17, of Whittier, taken at memorial to Soto in the wake of his fatal shooting on March 26, 2012, at the corner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue in South Whittier. (By Keith Durflinger)

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Man fatally shot in front of his home in Whittier


WHITTIER >> A man died after being shot in broad daylight Saturday in front of his Whittier home, authorities said.
Police responded to reports of a shooting about 12:10 p.m. at the corner of Washington Avenue and La Cuarta Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The victim, a 34-year-old Whittier man, was found lying unconscious outside, Ellis said.
0831_NWS_WDN-L-SHOOTINGDEATH2“Officers performed CPR. He was subsequently transported to (Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center) where he was pronounced dead,” Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The victim had been shot once in the torso, he said.
His name was withheld pending notification of family members, officials said.
At least one suspect — described only as a man — was believed to have fled the scene in a vehicle, Przybyl said, however a further description of the suspect or the getaway car was not available.
The motive in the shooting also remained under investigation, Przybyl said.
“We’re developing further, and at this point, we’re still trying to follow up on some of that,” he said.
0831_NWS_WDN-L-SHOOTINGDEATH3Neighbors expressed sorrow for the victim’s family. They added that the home is occupied by several children.
Detectives examined items including an ice chest, an overturned plastic been full of clothing and a cell phone strewn along the street and sidewalk at the scene of the shooting.
Detectives continued interviewing witnesses, taking measurements and collecting clues well into the afternoon.
Detectives continued investigating the scene and interviewing witnesses of the midday shooting Saturday afternoon, he said.
Anyone with information can contact Whittier police at 562-567-9200.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Hundreds march in honor of slain sheriff’s Explorer in South Whittier

IMG_5127

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of people took part in a vigil in South Whittier late Thursday to commemorate the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Explorer and lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez.
The observance included a march to the scene of the shooting that claimed the life of Rodriguez, 19, and friend Larry Villegas, 24, of Whittier on Aug. 28, 2011.
Loved ones placed candles at the shooting scene outside a home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in South Whittier before continuing on to Amelia Mayberry Park.
The march was led by fellow Explorers from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, where Rodriguez had volunteered for four years. And his legacy lives in.
“He was my inspiration to become an Explorer,” Alejandra Garcia, 16, said as she participated in the march while carrying a framed photograph of Rodriguez.
IMG_5398The fatal shootings of Rodriguez and Villegas remain unsolved, and no description of the killer or killers is known, investigators said.
Though officials initially reported a white Scion vehicle was being sought in connection with the crime, the car has since been located and found not to be involved, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTOS by James Carbone

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Vigil planned for sheriff’s Explorer slain in South Whittier drive-by shooting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Family members and loved ones of a 19-year-old Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout plan to gather for a vigil Thursday to mark the third anniversary of his unsolved slaying.
Cesar Rodriguez, a lifelong Whittier resident who had spent his last four years volunteering as an Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, was gunned down along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, in the early-morning hours of Aug. 28, 2011 in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue, according to sheriff’s investigators and family members.
He’s survived his parents Jorge and Lupe Rodriguez, as well as older brothers George and Hector Rodriguez.
“We’re trying to stay strong,” George Rodriguez said.
Thursday’s vigil will be held at 7 p.m. at Laurel and Beaty avenues, near the shooting scene in South Whittier.
Community support has continued to grow in the three years since Cesar Rodriguez’s
At a march held last year on the second anniversary of the shooting, nearly 300 people attended, he said. About 150 people marched in a similar gathering in 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas were shot as they left a party, sheriff’s officials said. The shots were believed to have been fired from a passing vehicle, though no specific description was available.
A white Scion initially described by investigators as a suspect vehicle has been found and determined not to have been the killer’s car, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Rodriguez and Villegas died at the scene.
Patrick Maxwell, who served as captain of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station while Rodriguez volunteered there and has since been promoted to the rank of commander, described Rodriguez as a selfless and eager young man who was always polite and respectful. he has a lifelong dream of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, Maxwell said, and had turned in his application to join the sheriff’s department as a deputy a week before his killing.
At Rodriguez’s funeral, then-sheriff Lee Baca said Rodriguez was an exemplary Explorer Scout and a leader who was on a “noble path.”
Rodriguez was buried in his Explorer uniform.
The search for the killer or killers of Rodriguez and Villegas continues, and detectives have followed up on new clues in the case in recent months, Corina said.
A motive was not known with certainty, however Corina said investigators suspected the killings stemmed from a gang shooting.
George Rodriguez said the family remained hopeful the case would be solved, and Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers will be brought to justice.
Former sheriff Baca had promised the family the investigation would be a top priority of the sheriff’s department, George Rodriguez said. The brother said he hoped that would remain true under the department’s new leadership following the November runoff election for sheriff between Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and former undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
Anyone with information on the double-fatal shooting is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO of Cesar Rodriguez courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email