When 16-year-old Juan Carlos Rodriguez was murdered outside a Tustin house party in January 2010, police employed something of a "round-up-the-usual-suspects" strategy, hauling off eight or so young men and women for the murder. The list was later cut to six suspects. A statement from prosecutors on the first sentence being imposed in the case today mentions three defendants.
Going to prison first--for life, without the possibility of parole, plus another 30 years--is Sarith Yin, 25, Santa Ana.
Judge Francisco Briseno sentenced Yin, who a jury in January convicted of first-degree murder, active participation in a criminal street gang and committing the crime for the gang's benefit.
Rodriguez was among a group of taggers partying in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2010, in an apartment on Myrtle Avenue in Tustin that just happened to be a few blocks away from where members of the Cambodian Tiny Rascal Gang were partying.
When a couple Tiny Rascal members walked past the taggers' party, they were asked about their gang affiliation. Largely outnumbered, the pair went to a nearby liquor store and called for reinforcements.
Among those who arrived were Yin and, according to authorities, 23-year-old John Saway, whose separate trial in scheduled to begin Monday. Armed with semi-automatic weapons, the pair so frightened people standing outside the tagger party they bolted into apartments for cover. But Rodriguez and a female hid behind a tree.
As Yin covered him, Saway began firing, according to prosecutors. One bullet hit Rodriguez in the back, pierced his heart and exited his chest.
An unidentified man came out of a residence and fired at the attackers, which allowed the female who had been with Rodriguez to flee.
Yin and Saway are said to have split in a vehicle driven by Ruon Phi Keo, who is also up on charges.
Rodriguez died the following day.
Saway is charged with one felony count each of murder, street terrorism, possession of a firearm by a felon, attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and sentencing enhancements for murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose, criminal street gang activity, the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member causing death, and the personal use of a firearm.
He has a prior strike conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon for the benefit of a criminal street gang in 2008 and prior convictions for possession of a firearm by a felon in 2008 and vehicle theft in 2005. If convicted, Saway faces double life sentences without the possibility of parole.
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