UPDATED: Baldwin Park man sentenced for beating death of toddler son

POMONA >> A Baldwin Park man received a sentenced of 25 years to life in prison Tuesday after a Pomona Superior Court jury convicted of murder and child abuse for the death of his 20-month-old son, authorities said.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before finding David Paz Vasquez, 34, guilty of second-degree murder and child abuse causing death for the June 12, 2013, death of his son, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said. Judge Bruce Marrs immediately sentenced Vasquez to 25 years to life in state prison.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators identified the young toddler as Joshua Anderson Vasquez.
His father brought him to Citrus Valley Medical Center – Queen of the Valley Campus about 10:50 a.m. before he was pronounced dead at 11:08 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroners officials said. Doctors determined the boy died from blunt force trauma to his torso and head, and detectives responded the man’s home in the 3700 block of Downing Avenue to investigate, Detective Eddie Brown of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
The toddler’s mother was at work when the fatal injuries occurred, officials said.
“Vasquez told investigators that placed the child on a bed and told him not to move,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “The toddler fell onto the floor and Vasquez became so upset that he struck his son on the head and abdomen and then took him to the hospital.”
“It appears Vasquez slammed the victim’s head against the floor and that he used a shoe to strike the child in the abdomen,” Risling said. The victim’s injuries included a broken skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding to the abdomen, officials said.
An autopsy determined the boy died of “blunt force trauma inflicted by caregiver,” and the case was ruled a homicide, Los Angeles County Department Coroner Assistance Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Detectives arrested David Vasquez on suspicion of murder late the same day.
About 15 months prior to the child’s death, when he was five months old, he suffered a broken leg when Vasquez yanked him away from his mother, the district attorney’s statement said. “After that incident, the toddler was placed in foster care for about a month and then went to his grandmother’s house for six months. “He was then returned to his parents.”


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Woman killed, man severely wounded in Pomona shooting

POMONA >> A woman died and a man was hospitalized in critical condition after they were both found shot in the back seat of a car in a residential neighborhood early Sunday morning, police said.
Vanessa Renee Lopez, 28, of Pomona died at the scene of the 2:50 a.m. shooting in the 1300 block of Caprino Way, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
Manuel Flores Jr., 30, of Pomona was rushed to a hospital by helicopter and was listed in critical condition, police said.
Officers responding to a report of a shooting found the victims wounded in the rear seat of a car parked in the driveway of a home, according to the statement.
The relationship between the two victims was unclear. No suspect information was available, and no further details were released as Pomona police homicide detectives continued their investigation Sunday.

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Shotgun slaying of Norwalk father and son remains a mystery

0718_NWS_WDN-L-NORWALK-SHOOTFOLO1NORWALK >> Detectives continue seeking clues into the mysterious shotgun slaying of a father and son found fatally shot inside their Norwalk home earlier this week.
Walter Vicente, 49, and Andrew Vicente, 24, were found shot to death shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday at their house in the 12300 block of Gettysburg Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials said.
A family member, who was a son to the older victim and brother to the younger victim, found the men shot to death when he stopped by to visit, Lt. Dave Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. It was unclear when exactly the shooting took place, though it was believed to have been within a matter of a day or days.
No suspect has been identified in the double-homicide, and the motiveremains unclear.
“There’s nothing apparent that indicated it was a robbery,” Coleman said. The shots were fired from within the house, however there were no signs of forced entry into the home.
Walter Vicente’s body was discovered in the living room of the home, while Andrew Vicente’s body was found in an adjacent bedroom.
0718_NWS_WDN-L-NORWALK-SHOOTFOLO2Neither the father or son appeared to have no ties to gang acivity, and investigators were aware of no one who would want to do them harm, the lieutenant said. Walter Vicente was a plumber, he said, adding that he believed his son was also involved in the trade.
“It’s a mystery,” Coleman said. “We just don’t have much at this time. We’re obviously going to get into their personal lives.”
Detectives were also still trying to determine the last time someone saw the father and son alive.
An autopsy determined the men both died from shotgun wounds to the head, and both cases were ruled homicides, coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
An exact time of death was not clear, however coroner’s reports indicated a neighbor reported hearing possibly gunfire shortly after 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Anyone with information was aksed 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.

PHOTOS of Walter Vicente, 49, of Norwalk (above) and Andrew Vicente, 24, of Norwalk (below) courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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One man killed, another wounded in shooting at Gerdes Park in Norwalk

NORWALK >> One man died and another was wounded when gunfire erupted at a Norwalk park late Saturday, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 9:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Gerdes Park in the 14700 block of Gridley Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Homicide detectives have learned that two victims were standing in the parking lot of the location with a group of males when a male adult approached and began firing,” deputies from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “The suspect then fled on foot to a waiting dark color sedan. The suspect vehicle was last seen heading southbound on Gridley Road and out of view.”
No further suspect description was available Sunday.
Deputies found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. Paramedics pronounced one of the victims dead at the scene. Coroner’s officials withheld his identity Sunday pending notification of his family.
The second victim was hospitalized in stable condition and expected to survive his injuries, Sgt. Ralph Gama said.
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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Rowland Heights man sentenced for fatal La Puente stabbing

POMONA >> A 28-year-old Rowland Heights man was sentenced Tuesday to 26 years to life in prison for stabbing to death an ex-boyfriend in an industrial area in La Puente, authorities said.
Andres Aguirre was convicted June 2 of the first degree murder of Joseph Chacon of El Monte, whose body was found behind a business in the 15900 block of Old Valley Boulevard on Feb. 12, 2014, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The men had been involved in a previous relationship but were friends at the time of the stabbing.
Ardalani said Aguirre drove him to La Puente, Ardalani said. Chacon got out of the car to urinate when Aguirre followed after him and stabbed him in the chest and back.
The prosecution argued that Aguirre stabbed Chacon because he felt angered and disrespected by Chacon for taking phone calls while the men spent the evening together. Aguirre’s defense attorney, Louisa Pensanti said her client acted in what he believed to be self-defense.
“He wasn’t angry, he was fearful,” she said.
Chacon had on the phone with a man Aguirre believed to be involved with gangs, Pensanti said. Believing Chacon was arranging an attack of some kind, Aguirre stabbed him, Pensanti said.
Pensanti also disputed the prosecution’s assertion that Aguirre provided Chacon with a large amount of alcohol prior to the fatal stabbing. Pensanti said Aguirre brought only two beers with him, though Chacon drank more of his own alcohol. “He wasn’t plied with liquor,” Pensanti said.
The defense asked the jury to convict Aguirre of the lesser crime of manslaughter, but the jury sided with the prosecution and found Aguirre guilty of first-degree murder.

– Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day

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Officials: Man accused of murder in fatal South El Monte crash that stemmed from shooting

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A suspect is behind bars and accused of murder in connection with a solo-car crash that killed his passenger last week, which detectives say occurred as the occupants of the car were fleeing the scene of a shooting they had just committed.
Anthony James Rojas, 20, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records. His city of residence was not available.
He’s suspected of murder for the death of 19-year-old Jonathan William Loaiza of Bell Gardens, who died in the June 26 crash on the northbound Rosemead Boulevard on-ramp to the eastbound 60 Freeway, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. Loaiza was pronounced dead at the scene after the 2006 Mitsubishi Galant he was as a passenger in crashed and overturned.
The driver fled the scene, officials said. Two handguns were found inside the wrecked Mitsubishi, and a second passenger was detained.
“Detectives now believe the occupants in the Mitsubishi that flipped over shot at the occupants in another vehicle as they traveled north on Rosemead Boulevard,” Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. A man was struck by the gunfire and remained hospitalized Friday, Rouzan added. The shooting was believed to be gang-related.
“Detectives believe, that as the suspects in the Mitsubishi fled the scene, (Rojas) lost control of the vehicle causing it to flip and crash,” Rouzan said.
Paramedics pronounced Loaiza dead at the scene.
Detective identified the driver as Rojas and arrested him Wednesday, according to officials and booking records. Sheriff’s officials announced the arrest Friday.
Under a California law known as the felony-murder rule, a defendant can be charged with murder if an accomplice dies as the result of a felony.
Rojas was scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing Monday in Downey Superior Court.

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El Monte gang member sentenced for 2012 slaying


POMONA >> An El Monte gang member has begun serving a sentence of 80 years to life in prison for the fatal shooting of a fellow gang member in El Monte in 2012.
A Pomona Superior Court jury convicted Frank Escalante, 27, in April of the June 14, 2012, slaying of 34-year-old German Palacios of El Monte in the 11500 block of Medina Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Convicted along with Escalante was 27-year-old Noah Akuna of Pomona, who was sentenced earlier this month 50 years in life in state prison. The jury found both guilty of murder with special gun allegations, conspiracy to commit murder and being convicted felons in possession of a firearm. Escalante also admitted a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
Both men fired on Palacios, Deputy District Attorney Robert Serna said.
Pomona Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Falls sentenced Escalante Tuesday to 83 years to life in state prison, Ardalani said.
Homicide detectives said Escalante and Akuna, along with two other attackers, shot EP-150419939Hicks 16 times because they believed he was involved in the April 12, 2008, slaying of Jack Edward Hicks, 35, of El Monte in a tent trailer parked behind a friend’s house in the 5200 block of Cogswell Road. Officials also suspected Palacios was targeted for disrespecting a higher-ranking gang member.
Detective Ray Lugo of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau confirmed that investigators had looked into Palacios in connection with Hicks’ slaying, but charges were never filed.
Two other men charged in connection with Palacios’ killing — Richard Sanchez of Covina and Michael Dominguez of El Monte — have pleaded “no contest” to charges of voluntary manslaughter.
Sanchez helped plan the killing, and Dominguez provided Akuna with a handgun used in the shooting, Serna said.
Sanchez has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Dominguez is scheduled to be sentenced July 8.

PHOTOS: [Above] -Convicted killer Frank Escalante, 27, of El Monte  [Below] – Homicide victim German Palacios. (Courtesy)

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18-year-old man fatally shot near his home in West Whittier

WEST WHITTIER >> An 18-year-old man died after he was shot near his home in an unincorporated county area near Whittier Tuesday night, authorities said.
Steve Cerda died in the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a shooting in the 6100 block of Norwalk Boulevard, according to a department statement.
Deputies found Cerda lying on the lawn in front of an apartment complex with multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
“According to witnesses, the victim was hanging out in front of the apartment complex with some friends when the suspect, a male Hispanic, walked up to the victim and his friends and started shooting at them,” Deputy Mike Barraza of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “The victim was struck by the gunfire and collapsed at the location.”
No one else was struck by the gunfire, Barraza said.
Witnesses told deputies that the victim was hanging out in the front of the complex with some friends when a suspect walked up to the group and started shooting at them, the statement said. The victim was struck by gunfire and collapsed. No one else was injured.
• Photos: Man shot in front of Norwalk Boulevard apartment building in West Whittier
The suspect fled the location on foot and was last seen running south on Norwalk.
Randy Avalos, 15, who lives at the complex, said the victim, who he called Steve, was talking about how he was planning on going to the Irwindale Speedway to watch cars race when a lone gunman wearing a black hooded sweatshirt approached the group and started starting shooting at the group.
The group scattered as the gunfire broke out, Avalos said.
After Avalos fell wounded, “He went up to him and shot him in the head,” Avalos said, adding that they didn’t recognize the suspect. “It’s crazy. He didn’t deserve it.”
Cerda lives on the same street where he was shot, officials said.
According to his Facebook profile, Cerda studied at Rio Hondo College and had previously attended Pioneer High School, Frontier High School and Whittier High School.
Investigators asked anyone with information 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.
— Stephanie Baer, Keith Durflinger, Brian Day

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Man shot to death in Montebello identified

MONTEBELLO >> Authorities Sunday released the identity of a 19-year-old East Los Angeles man who was shot to death in an apartment complex courtyard in Montebello Friday afternoon.
Gabriel Vargas Jr. died at the scene of the shooting, which took place just after noon in the 500 block of Via Altamira Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
Officers responding to reports of gunfire to find Vargas lying in a courtyard between two apartment complexes, mortally wounded.
Vargas was talking with a small group of acquaintances just before the shooting, Montebello police officials said.
“It was during this time the suspect approached the victim on foot and fired several times, striking him multiple times,” police said in a written statement.
The shooter was described only as a man.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Montebello Police Department.

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Jury deadlocks in Monterey Park murder trial

PASADENA >> A jury deadlocked Friday in the trial of a Monterey Park man charged with two counts of murder for the strangulation and beating death of his wife, who was three months pregnant, officials said.
The Pasadena Superior Court jury announced they were unable to reach verdicts in the case of Hongxin Liu, 45, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Judge Darrell Mavis declared a mistrial
Liu is charged with two counts of murder, along with the special allegation of multiple murder, in connection with the Feb. 5, 2012, death of his wife and her fetus at the couple’s apartment in the 1000 block of South Ynez Avenue.
An autopsy determined 39-year-old Chenyan Bao died of asphyxia as a result of neck compression. The coroner’s investigation also found that Bao had been beaten.
Prosecutors plan to retry the case, and a pretrial hearing was scheduled July 6, Ardalani said.

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