A gang member convicted of first-degree murder for being the get-away driver in a Cypress Park shooting that killed a man holding a toddler and the attempted murders of two police officers involving a subsequent shootout was sentenced today to life in prison without parole.
In imposing the sentence on Rafael Carrillo, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said, "When one considers the factual scenario of this case, it is really horrendous."
She called the Feb. 21, 2008, murder of Marco Salas -- who was carrying his girlfriend's 2-year-old granddaughter -- "totally unprovoked," and said "bullets were flying everywhere" in a gun battle between two other gang members.
The judge said she agreed with the prosecution's assessment that the 31- year-old defendant is "deserving of every possible day in custody."
Carrillo was convicted last Dec. 23 of Salas' killing, along with assault with a semiautomatic firearm involving the 2-year-old. He was also found guilty of attempted murder involving a gun between two other gang members and two Los Angeles police officers.
Jurors acquitted him of a second murder charge involving the death of Daniel Leon, who was killed in the shootout with police.
Co-defendant Jose Angel Gomez, 24, is awaiting trial in the killings of Salas and Leon, along with a second case in which he is accused of strangling and fatally beating his cellmate in Men's Central Jail. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Gomez.
Carrillo and other members of his gang went looking for a rival gang member to kill, Deputy District Attorney John Colello told jurors. Salas, a one- time gang member, was boxed in by three men and killed while carrying his girlfriend's 2-year-old granddaughter near Aragon Avenue Elementary School, the prosecutor said.
The toddler fell to the ground when Salas was shot. The girl's mother testified that her daughter suffered "a big bump on her forehead" and had been "really quiet" since the shooting.
Gomez is alleged to have been the gunman who shot Salas.
"They killed him because of a rivalry and hatred," Colello said.
Carrillo was driving one of two getaway vehicles and returned to his own gang territory after the shooting, the prosecutor said.
About 10 minutes later, Leon, who was armed with an AK-47, and Gomez got out of one of the cars near Estara Avenue and Drew Street and began a gun battle with two LAPD officers, Colello told jurors.
The police had headed to the neighborhood in the belief that members of the local gang might have been involved in the earlier shooting, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Jonathan Roberts challenged the accounts of a former gang leader and another gang associate who testified against Carrillo.
He called one a "professional liar" and said anything the other said was "suspect" because he cut a deal with prosecutors that spared him a potential life sentence.
—City News Service