While at a party Jan. 4, three gang members are alleged to have asked a fourth to set up a meeting with drug dealer Bernal Ezquivel Felix.
The plan, authorities say, was the stage a fake drug buy and instead rob the 49-year-old Santa Ana resident (who was identified in earlier versions of this post as Ezquivel Felix Bernal).
That's not what happened.
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At around 11 p.m. in a residential area on Oak Street in Orange, one gang-banger waited in his dark sports utility vehicle, two others hid nearby out of sight from Felix and the woman who set up the meeting got in the backseat of Felix's car, according to prosecutors.
white 1995 Ford Focusdrove slowly down the street, one gang member came out of the shadows and shot Felix, killing him, claim the charges announced today by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
The Focus kept moving until hitting a parked car on the street.
According to authorities, the woman jumped out of Felix's car empty-handed, the three would-be robbers then got into the SUV and all four fled the scene.
Police initially believed a stranger randomly opened fire on Felix as he was driving through the neighborhood
. He was rushed to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he died.
The Sheriff's Coroner Division later confirmed for the Weekly it was the first homicide case of the year that has been cleared in Orange County.
Orange residents Robert Reil, 31, and Amour Villamar, 30, were arrested in Springfield, Oregon, in January by police there and the U.S. Marshals Service Oregon Fugitive Task Force. Both had violated their respective paroles. Reil has previous convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, evading a peace officer and disturbing the peace, while Villamar has separate drug-related and stolen-vehicle charges on her rap sheet.
The pair were later extradited to Orange County for the Felix case, with Villamar identified as the woman who set up the phony drug buy.
On Thursday, Reil, Joseph Baez, 26, and Christian Galindo, 25, also of Orange, were charged with one felony count each of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, conspiracy to commit a robbery, street terrorism, being an active participant in criminal street gang having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, and sentencing enhancements for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death and criminal street gang activity.
Baez was also charged with sentencing enhancements for one prior strike conviction for assault with a deadly weapon in 2008 and one prison prior conviction for gang related fighting in public in 2004.
Riel was additionally charged with sentencing enhancements for one prior strike conviction for residential burglary in 2005 and three prison prior convictions for unlawful taking of a car in 1999, possession of a deadly weapon in 2003, and possession of methamphetamine in 2006.
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Galindo was also charged with sentencing enhancements for two prior strike convictions for burglary as a gang member in 2003 and possession of methamphetamine for sale as a gang member in 2005.
Villamar is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, and sentencing enhancements for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death and criminal street gang activity. She was also charged with sentencing enhancements for two prison prior convictions for possession of methamphetamine for sale in 2004 and unlawful taking of a car in 2009.
If convicted, the foursome could get life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Baez and Galindo were scheduled to be arraigned today in Santa Ana. Villamar and Riel are scheduled to be transferred from their state prison cells to Orange County Jail for an arraignment at a later date.