Deborah Perna, who was the office manager at her family's trucking business, was jealous that her father intended to pass control to her brother, who she was also convinced was stealing from the company. So, the 53-year-old Anaheim resident arranged to have her brother whacked.
Today, a second gang member hired for the hit was sentenced to death for murdering 44-year-old David Montemayor of Buena Park.
And you thought your family was dysfunctional!
You'll need a scorecard to follow this one, folks.
Perna asked co-worker Edelmira Corona, 33, of Pico Rivera, to help her arrange the murder of Montemayor.
Corona was to get her friend Anthony Navarro, 43, of Canyon Country, to pull the crime.
Navarro, who belongs to a San Fernando Valley gang, recruited fellow gang bangers for the job: Gerardo Lopez, 25, of Pacoima; Armando Macias, 34, of Lancaster; and Alberto Martinez, 32, of Castaic.
On Oct. 2, 2002, Lopez, Macias and Martinez kidnapped Montemayor at the trucking company in Rancho Dominguez.
Led to believe the married father of three children kept thousands of dollars of cash in his Buena Park home, the kidnappers drove him there.
However, about a mile from his home, Montemayor managed to break free, bolt from the car and run away.
With Martinez behind the wheel of the car, Macias and Lopez fired their guns at Montemayor, who took one of Macias' bullets to his head and died.
The trio sped off, but they became the subject of a televised police chase and were eventually stopped and arrested.
The murder-for-hire plot was then unraveled for investigators.
Today, Martinez was sentenced to die.
He'd been convicted by a jury in Santa Ana May 6 of one felony count each of special circumstances murder, conspiracy to commit the crime of murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, kidnapping to commit robbery and street terrorism. The special circumstances sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain, murder during the commission of robbery, murder during the commission of kidnapping, and murder committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang were found true. The jury also found true the sentencing enhancements for the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death as a gang member and criminal street gang activity.
At today's sentencing hearing, Montemayor's surviving wife and children testified.
The wife said she had been a stay-at-home mom for the kids--who were 7, 9 and 11 at the time of the murder--and that her husband was the bread-winner. She said she became the head of the household from the moment detectives knocked on her door to deliver the news of her husband's death. He had worked hard and looked forward to enjoying their golden years together. Now she feels duty-bound to be there for him at all the court hearings tied to the case.
Her children recalled being told of their father's death by their mom and a priest. The youngest child did not know what that meant. The middle child talked of the difficulty of growing up without a father and the pain felt when friends talked about their dads. The oldest said her memory of her father is the cemetery where he is buried.
Aunt Debbie was convicted of murder with the special circumstances of committing the murder in the course of attempted robbery and kidnapping and was sentenced in 2006 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Corona pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2004 and faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison at an Oct. 14 hearing in Fullerton.
Navarro got death in 2008 after being convicted of one felony count of murder with allegations for committing murder during the commission of another felony and murder committed to benefit a criminal street gang. He was also convicted of one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one felony count of street terrorism. The sentencing enhancement for murder committed by gang members with a firearm was found true.
Lopez was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in 2006 after being convicted of murder with the special circumstances of committing the murder in the course of attempted robbery and kidnapping.
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Macias is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder with an allegation for murder for financial gain. He is also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, being a gang member carrying a loaded firearm in public, kidnapping to commit robbery, attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, street terrorism with allegations for murder during the commission of another felony and murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose. He faces sentencing enhancement allegations for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal use of a deadly weapon. And he has a prior strike for a 1994 manslaughter conviction.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Macias, who has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Sept. 17 in Santa Ana.
This post began by noting how dysfunctional Perna's family was. They've got company when it comes to Martinez, whose defense team argued at sentencing that his parents were both child molesters.
According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, there is no evidence his parents were molesters.