One night in August 2007, Westminster family members were minding their own business in the backyard of their residence, barbequing and drinking beer when two vehicles drove up and at least 15 hoodlums emerged screaming, "This is West Trece [criminal street gang]! This is our neighborhood!"
The gangsters--all males except for one--carried knives, ice picks, screwdrivers, shanks, bats, bricks, beer bottles, hammers, wrenches and pipes as they charged the house threatening to kill its occupants, according to law enforcement reports.
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Seriously wounded family members were punched, beaten and stabbed--and the W-13 gangsters attempted to run them over with a Jeep before fleeing.
Westminster Police Department officers found one of the getaway vehicles loaded with bloody weapons and hoodlums, including Rachel Angel Chavez.
A 2008 Orange County jury agreed with prosecutors and police that Chavez was guilty of two counts of attempted murder, assault with deadly weapons, street terrorism and gang membership.
A Superior Court judge sentenced her to prison, but Chavez appealed. According to her version, she had left her house with the other gangsters on the night of the crime and thought they were going to a pool hall for fun. She claimed that did not know her colleagues intended to attack the family and therefore she couldn't have formed the necessary criminal intent to be guilty. She also complained that a jury instruction may have confused jurors and prejudiced her.
Chavez's trial judge rejected the complaints. A California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana rejected them too. Justices who reviewed the case determined that any trial errors, if any, had been harmless.
But the hoodlum didn't give up. She filed a federal appeal and this week U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank considered a report that concluded "there is no dispute that [Chavez] got out the car to provide backup for her companions, knowing that injury or death was a possible outcome of their actions." The report recommended dismissal of the appeal, a move Fairbank's accepted.
Upshot: Chavez, 25, will continue to serve her 29-year punishment inside the lovely Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla.