A jury today found a 20-year-old Fountain Valley man guilty of murdering an unarmed teen rival from a "tagging crew" with a shotgun blast to the neck in the parking lot of a convenience store.
Jurors in Santa Ana deliberated about four hours before convicting Reda Hassan Safieddine, who as a DJ went by "Big Reda," of second-degree murder and brandishing a firearm and found true a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a gun.
He faces up to 40 years to life in prison at his scheduled sentencing Nov. 7.
Safieddine's beef with the victim, 17-year-old Valle "Bam Bam" Valeriano, dated back to 2009 at Los Amigos High School, where Valeriano was beaten by the defendant and his crew, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy, who sought a first-degree murder conviction.
Around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2012, the two crossed paths at Mohawk Drive and Cubbon Street in Santa Ana, where Valeriano and his friends, who were driving around high on nitrous oxide, got into an argument with Safieddine, who was in another vehicle with his girlfriend, explained McGreevy in the courtroom account of City News Service's Paul Anderson.
Safieddine got out of his car, fetched the shotgun out of the trunk and threatened Valeriano, who responded, "Shoot me, shoot me," McGreevy told jurors. Both groups later drove away but ran into one another again about an hour later outside the 7-Eleven at 16475 Harbor Blvd., Fountain Valley.
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"He took that gun, racked a round and shot that 17-year-old in the neck and he died," McGreevy said of Safieddine. "If you're looking or a good reason for this killing you're not going to find one. ... If you're looking for justified self-defense you're not going to find that either."
Safieddine's defense attorney William Elliott argued his client did not intend to kill Valeriano, who stood 6-foot-2 and weighed about 180 pounds to the defendant's 5-foot-7 and about 125 pounds. Elliott claimed Valeriano and his friends "taunted" Safieddine over the two years before the shooting, and that his client's girlfriend was "scared to death" that fateful day.
Elliott also noted Safieddine did not run away after blasting away and that he had his girlfriend call 911 and tried to stop Valeriano's bleeding. "He didn't want to kill him,'' Elliott told jurors. "The first thing he tells police is, 'I shot him in self defense.'"