Anthony Hernandez, Ulises Mejia, Kevin Garcia, Eduardo Ortega Cop to Taqueria-Slaying Roles

Four men admitted to their involvement in a fatal stabbing at a joint this infernal rag previously deemed the best taqueria in the county.

That fatal stabbing could send a fifth man to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.

He is 23-year-old Victor Praxedis, who is scheduled to learn his fate at a Jan. 10 sentencing hearing after a jury on Oct. 10 found him guilty of first-degree murder with a special circumstance allegation that the killing was committed for the benefit of a gang and found true sentencing enhancements for use of a deadly weapon and gang activity.


Victor Praxedis Guilty of Fatally Stabbing Juan Diaz Pacheco in One of OC's Best Taquerias

Juan Diaz Pacheco, 28, was dining with two others in the Santa Ana taqueria at 202 S. Bristol St., where six men approached their table and asked that old gang chestnut, “Where are you from?” But the answer they received from the table obviously was not what they wanted to hear: “We're not from anywhere and we don't gang bang.”

That led to the melee that had Pacheco being stabbed multiple times in the chest. Witnesses testified in court that one of the six men hollered out the gang's name in the restaurant and from the car they fled in and that 21-year-old getaway driver Kevin Garcia was seen making a gang sign.

Garcia, Anthony Morales Hernandez, 23, Ulises Mejia, 26, and Eduardo Felipe Ortega, 20, pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter and street terrorism and admitted a sentencing enhancement for gang activity. Hernandez and Mejia were then sentenced to 13 years in prison, Garcia got 16 years and Ortega earned a 21-year term.

Deputy District Attorney Erik Petersen told City News Service he worked out plea deals with the four because Pacheco's family did not wish to endure additional trials.

A sixth suspect, Christopher Espino of San Bernardino, is still at-large.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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