Jesse Salinas, 24, was sentenced to 24 years to life for his role in the murder of Christian Jimenez, a 15-year-old with no gang ties who was shot and killed at point-blank range in Olinder Park in April, 2003. Salinas, who has served nearly five years, agreed to waive credit for time served, meaning the sentence is essentially at least 30 years in prison, according to prosecutors.In all, 10 members of two affiliated Norteno gangs were convicted and sentenced for crimes related to Christian's death, including witness intimidation, aiding and abetting and accessory after the fact, according to prosecutors. The gang members went to Olinder Park looking to kill a Sureno gang member in retaliation for the stabbing of a fellow Norteno gang member weeks earlier."When those gang members went to Olinder Park they intended to kill someone. They just didn't know who it would be," prosecutor David Ezgar said. "Christian Jimenez had the tragic misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."Three other gang members who were also convicted on murder charges in Christian's death received sentences of 70 and 80 years in prison. Jonathan Pipkin, who pleaded guility to accessory after the fact and received a three-year sentence, testified at the trial of two gang members."We're going to prosecute gang cases vigorously," Ezgar said. "We're going to prosecute every gang member that participates in the crime. Not just the one individual who ends up pulling the trigger."Christian's mother, Angelica Jimenez, regularly attended court hearings during the past four years and was in court Thursday for the final sentencing. "It's over. It feels good, but every day is hard for me," Jimenez said.
Jimenez has talked a few times at schools about gang violence and the death of her son. Her remaining child, Angelo, 19, is now attending college.Christian, an eighth-grader at Willow Glen Middle School, was hanging out with two friends in a park sometimes frequented by Surenos, the Nortenos' rival gang. Salinas and two fellow Nortenos, Javier Ayala and Alexander Diaz, went to the park that day looking to kill someone in retaliation for the stabbing of a fellow gang member.
When they found Christian and his friends, Salinas and Ayala asked the kids what gang they belonged to. When the teens said they did not belong to a gang, Salinas and Ayala claimed to be Surenos in an attempt to coax Christian and his friends to admit to being Surenos. Diaz, meanwhile, was waiting in the bushes with a sawed off shotgun as his partners confronted Christian and his friends. After the initial confrontation, the three gang members conferred in the bushes and decided to attack the teens. Ayala and Salinas emerged first and began beating up both boys. Diaz then emerged and from a distance of not more than three feet and shot and killed Christian.One of the three tried to kill one of Christian's friends, but the gun jammed, Ezgar said. "But for that, we most likely would have had two dead boys in that park."
As Christian and his friends were being attacked, two other Nortenos were circling the park in a getaway car. One of the gang members in the car was in constant phone contact with Diaz, the shooter. After the murder, the five men returned to a house described as the "gang hangout" and began partying and littering the walls with gang tags.Diaz pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder on July 15, 2003 and was sentenced to 80 years to life. He was arrested by police after committing a home invasion robbery while under police surveillance. Police followed Diaz back to the gang's house — and after a standoff that lasted several hours — drew Diaz out with tear gas. Inside, they found the shot gun and same ammunition used to kill Christian and an array of other gang evidence that led to multiple arrests.Salinas was arrested in May 2003 at a relative's house.
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