A Santa Ana gang member is scheduled to be arraigned later this morning for the unprovoked murder of a 14-year-old rival gang member.
Armando Andres Carachure, 25, had a 12-year-old member of his gang by his side when the approached the victim riding a bike at Jerome Park in Santa Ana on June 21.
Now Carachure is looking at the possibility of the death penalty.
According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), Fidel Armando Guajardo, the teen on the bike, did not do anything to spur the 7:20 p.m. attack–other than answer with a rival gang's name when Carachure asked which one he belonged to. That led to Guajardo being chased to Townsend Street, where he was pushed against a vehicle and stabbed repeatedly in the back. He collapsed in the street, and his attacker fled. Guajardo died from his stab wounds later that evening at UCI Medical Center in Orange.
Immediately after the murder, Carachure allegedly went to the home of 19-year-old Luis Francisco Gaytan, who is accused of helping the suspected killer by loaning him a cell phone to call for a ride out of the area, as well as a place to clean off blood and change into different clothing–essentially destroying evidence.
Carachure is accused of then calling Fernando Cuevas, 27, who allegedly drove over and gave Carachure and Gaytan a ride out of there. Santa Ana Police announced two days after the slaying that Carachure, Cuevas, Gaytan and a minor boy had been taken into custody.
Cuevas and Gaytan are each charged with felony counts of accessory after the fact and street terrorism, with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity. Gaytan, who is being held on $1 million bail and an immigration hold, could get up to seven years in state prison with a conviction. But Cuevas, who is also being held on $1 million bail, could get 30 years to life in the joint because he has two prior strike convictions for possession of cocaine with intent to sell for the benefit of a street gang and street terrorism.
Even if Cuevas got the max, he'd likely get out sooner than Carachure, who is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose and one felony count of street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and criminal street gang activity. He also has two prior prison convictions for buying or receiving stolen goods in 2006 and battery in 2007.
A conviction could send Carachure to prison for life without the possibility of parole, although the special circumstances in this case also make him eligible for the death penalty, according to the OCDA. A death-penalty panel will be convened to determine whether to pursue the ultimate punishment.
No word on what fate awaits the 12-year-old.