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Thursday, 12 February 2009

Norteno street ganger Christopher Marenco, 20, The jury of eight women and four men decided that Marenco murdered Rodolfo Hernandez, gunning him down

15:00 |

Christopher Marenco, 20, showed no emotion as the verdict was read in court. The jury of eight women and four men decided that Marenco murdered 27-year-old Rodolfo Hernandez, gunning him down on Jan. 1 last year. Norteno gang member accused of killing a man for being a gang dropout was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday.
He now faces life in prison without parole.Norteno street gang member Christopher Marenco was found guilty Wednesday of the 2008 slaying of Rodolfo Hernandez.Although Marenco was expressionless, families on both sides in the audience shed tears and cried. Bernard Ruiz, the victim's stepfather, grasped his wife Frances and son Manuel by the shoulders as Marenco's fate was revealed. "Oh yes!" Ruiz yelled. He then placed his face in his hands and began crying uncontrollably.Meanwhile, Marenco's mother wept quietly, while other members put their heads down and also cried.Wearing long hair and a white collared shirt, Marenco seemed unmoved by the emotions in the courtroom, only turning briefly to wave at his family as deputies led him away in handcuffs.Investigators said Marenco killed Hernandez for being a dropout from the same gang. An important fact of the case, however, was that Hernandez was in a romantic relationship with the defendant's older sister at the time of his death. Hernandez was shot in the chest at a 1630 Yosemite Park Way residence, during the early morning hours.Deputy District Attorney David Elgin argued that Marenco was angered by his sister's relationship with Hernandez, saying it was an insult to have "a dropout" involved with a family member. Elgin said Marenco made verbal threats to Hernandez -- threats that he viciously carried out.Elgin said he was pleased with the verdict. "It sends a message that gang members will be held accountable," Elgin said. "If you took the gang aspect out of this case, Rudy would still be alive."Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Marenco's attorney, said his client still maintains the shooting was accidental, arguing that the gun unintentionally fired during a heated argument between the two. "It's a sad day for Christopher Marenco and his family," Tenenbaum said.Hernandez was a father of three and had been attending classes at Merced College, with dreams of becoming an auto mechanic.Bernard Ruiz said he doesn't hate Marenco, but said he's caused an unimaginable amount of pain to families on both sides. "I'll never forget what he's done to our family. He's got a lot of time to think about it," Ruiz said.Still, Ruiz admitted that he is somewhat relieved. "I know now that my son can rest in peace," he cried.In addition to first-degree murder, the jury also found Marenco guilty of a special circumstance for being an active member of a criminal street gang, in addition to an enhancement for having a previous strike for an assault conviction.He's scheduled to be sentenced on April 16.

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