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Friday, 12 March 2010

gang member Riqo Mariano Perea gave police a signed confession admitting he killed two people and wounded two others.


13:35 |

After a shooting at an after-wedding party three years ago, prosecutors say gang member Riqo Mariano Perea gave police a signed confession admitting he killed two people and wounded two others.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Christopher Shaw told jurors at the beginning of Perea's murder trial Thursday the then-19-year-old's explanation was: "I just did it."
But defense attorney Sharon Sipes suggested that Perea took the fall for an older gang leader. Why would Perea risk is own life and liberty? Sipes said her client was "afraid of what might happen to his family."
Killed in the early hours of Aug. 5, 2007, were Sabrina Prieto, 22, and Rosendo Nevarez, 29.
Perea, now 22, is charged in 2nd District Court with two counts of aggravated murder, but prosecutors last week decided not to pursue the death penalty. He is also charged with two counts of first-degree felony attempted murder for wounding Richard Lee Esquivel and Keri Garcia.
Prior to the shooting, witnesses heard an argument on the street outside the Ogden home in the 1700 East block of 1050 North, where about 40 people had gathered. Garcia, now 24, testified the shouting included the names of two rival gangs.
She said she heard a man yell, "This is big-time Ogden Trece." A man answered, "This is Norte."
Then she saw the flash of a gun fired into the air.
Esquivel, now 26, testified he was
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urinating outside the home when heard a man say, "This is get-back from Ogden Trece."
Moments later, the two witnesses said, a red SUV coasted down the street as a man sat on the passenger-side window sill and fired over the roof of the vehicle. Esquivel was hit in the hip and shoulder. Garcia was shot in the lower back by a bullet that punctured a lung.
Esquivel and Garcia do not know Perea. But Sarah Valencia testified that Perea was the shooter.
Valencia said that shortly before the shooting, Perea arrived at her aunt's home, which is across the street from the house where the party was being held. She said Perea was with her uncle, a Trece gang member.
Perea told The Salt Lake Tribune after his arrest he was a Trece gang member, and that the shooting episode was sparked by a gang-related insult from someone at the wedding party.
Despite witness testimony, the defense said their crime-scene expert will say it was "impossible" for the victims to have been killed and injured by shots fired from the SUV.
Prosecutors said police found 10 shell casings from a .22-caliber pistol at the scene, but never found the weapon itself.
The killings spurred what police believe was a series of retaliatory shootings. In one case, a man was shot seven times and dumped in an Ogden industrial area, but survived.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.


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