Ramon Diaz, a Killer at 16, Gets 50 Years in Prison for Murder of 13-Year-Old Rodrigo Valle

A mother told a judge she doesn't understand why her 13-year-old son was taken from her.

The shooting death of Rodrigo Valle near Santa Ana High School was more than another case of a gang member getting off'd by a rival gang member. It was another case of babies killing babies in Santa Ana. Ramon Diaz, 20, wasn't yet 17 when he murdered Valle in cold blood after each had stared one down from opposing corners after school let out on Sept. 10, 2008.

The gunboy walked up and ordered Valle to state his gang, Valle gave the rival gang name and challenged Diaz to a fight, and Diaz struggled with Valle, who was pushed up against a fence before the older teen took a semiautomatic out of his waistband and fired six shots at Valle, who was struck by four rounds, two in his back. He died less than two hours later at Western Medical Center.

Oscar Hernandez, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty in September to essentially being Diaz's backup. Although Hernandez did not belong to a gang, he was by Diaz's side up to the moment his partner pushed Valle against the fence. Hernandez copped to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in association with a criminal street gang and was sentenced in October to 16 years in state prison.

Diaz was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in state prison, having been found guilty by a jury in September of one felony count of special circumstances murder for a criminal street gang purpose, with sentencing enhancements for the benefit of a criminal street gang and the personal, intentional discharge of a firearm resulting in death.

Valle's mother told the court at the sentencing hearing that her life has been destroyed and she will never recover.

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