LA gang member convicted in hate crime murder of 14-year-old girl, potential witness

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LA gang member convicted in hate-crime murder

LOS ANGELES — A Latino gang member was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder in the racially motivated shooting death of a 14-year-old black girl and the stabbing death of a potential witness.

Prosecutors said defendant Jonathan Fajardo was a member of an Hispanic gang that targeted blacks.

The jury deliberated for two days before finding Fajardo guilty of shooting eighth-grader Cheryl Green in a driveway in the Harbor Gateway neighborhood in 2006.

Fajardo told police during interviews that the missing gun in the attack could be used against other blacks, police, rival gang members or snitches, prosecutors said.

Jurors will now be asked to recommend whether Fajardo, 22, should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury also convicted Fajardo and co-defendant Daniel Aguilar, 23, of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 25-year-old Christopher Ash, a potential witness to the shooting of Green.

Prosecutors said Aguilar lured Ash, his friend, to a garage where he was stabbed about 80 times. Aguilar could face life in prison without parole.

Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Ford told jurors that even though Aguilar didn’t stab Ash, he was just as guilty of murder as those who did.

Green was hanging out with friends after school about a block from her house when she was shot. Three other teens were wounded.

The attack sparked protests by residents, activists and politicians.

The two-week trial detailed alleged violence used by the gang to maintain its power in the neighborhood.

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