What 17-year-old boy would turn down a promise of hot sex at a quiet hilltop construction site?
El Modena High School wrestler Diego Gonzalez's ex-girlfriend had a new boyfriend, but 20-year-old Veronica Paz was still seeing Gonzalez on the side. They drove to an unincorporated residential area near Orange for some nooky under the early-morning stars on Nov. 10, 2003.
What Gonzalez did not know was Paz's current boyfriend, Brandan Dante Perry, then 19, was there waiting for them, not to participate in a three-way, but to put two bullets in Gonzalez's head.
Perry, who hailed from Garden Grove and is now 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for lying in wait. He was sentenced in September 2006 to 25 years to life in state prison.
A month prior, a jury convicted Paz of first-degree murder but did not add the lying-in-wait enhancement. She received the same sentence as her murdering boyfriend in December 2006.
But the Fourth District Court of Appeals later overturned the conviction, saying Orange County Superior Court Judge James Stotler had made an error in jury instructions.As part of a plea deal, Paz agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, and she was sentenced Thursday to 15 years to life in state prison.
"She felt that she didn't want to put the families through another trial," said her attorney, Orange County Associate Public Defender Hector Chaparro in a City News Service report. "She wanted to accept responsibility for what she had done. . . . I believe she also did this because she truly felt remorseful for her involvement in this."
But Paz has insisted she did not know Perry was going to kill Gonzalez, according to Chaparro.
"She never wanted him to be killed," the attorney reportedly said. "She didn't think he would be hurt, but things got out of control, so she felt very bad about what had happened."
Perry testified at his trial that Paz did know he was going to kill Gonzalez, that he was angered when he saw her with other men, that they together hatched the plan to kill the teen and that she watched as he did the dirty deed without doing anything to stop him.
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She also participated in the attempt to destroy Gonzalez's body by setting it on fire with diesel fuel--twice! Paz and Perry together convinced two friends to help them develop an alibi. Albert Thomas Medina and Kimberly Rita Gomez, both 28, pleaded guilty in 2004 to being accessories. They each were sentenced to three years probation.
Chaparro tells City News his client has credit for more than seven years served in custody.
The Orange County district attorney's office statement on Paz's conviction follows on the next page. . . .
February 10, 2011
WOMAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE FOR LURING EX-BOYFRIEND TO BE MURDERED BY CURRENT BOYFRIEND WITH THE PROMISE OF SEX
SANTA ANA - A woman was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for luring her ex-boyfriend with the promise of sex to be murdered by her current boyfriend. Veronica Paz, 28, Orange, pleaded guilty to one felony count of second degree murder. The defendant was previously convicted by a jury in this case on Aug. 28, 2006, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison Dec. 15, 2006. The California Court of Appeal, 4th District, reversed the conviction June 23, 2008, for an instructional error.
Paz's co-defendant, Brandan Dante Perry, 27, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to one felony count of first degree murder on March 28, 2006, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison on Sept. 8, 2006.
Victim Diego Gonzalez was Paz's ex-boyfriend and a 17-year-old wrestler at El Modena High School. Paz had continued to see the victim after she began re-dating Perry, her former high school boyfriend.
On the night of Nov. 9, 2003, Paz lured Gonzalez to a hill-top residential area in an unincorporated part of Orange with the promise of sex. Paz arranged with Perry, her then-boyfriend, for Perry to be waiting at the designated location to assault the victim. Paz arrived with Gonzalez in the early morning hours of Nov. 10, 2006, and parked the car. She watched as Perry pulled Gonzalez from the car and executed him by shooting him twice in the head.
The defendants attempted to get rid of the evidence by dousing Gonzalez's body with lighter fluid and setting him on fire. The fire did not destroy the body and Paz and Perry drove to a gas station to purchase diesel fuel. They returned to the body, which was left on the ground in the middle of a cul-de-sac, and set it on fire again using the diesel fuel.
The day after the murder, Paz and Perry met with two friends to develop a story as an alibi for the night of the murder. Those friends, Albert Thomas Medina and Kimberly Rita Gomez, both 28, pleaded guilty in 2004 to accessory after the fact and were sentenced to three years probation.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.