Two more drug dealers have pleaded guilty to roles in a methamphetamine robbery that led to retaliation and Anaheim's fifth murder of 2012.
The plea deals reached with 26-year-old Juan Carlos Carranza and Alma Lopez Trinidad, 27, leaves suspected killer Jose Felix Zepeda as the lone remaining defendant. Trial for the 41-year-old charged with murder, kidnapping for extortion and conspiracy with sentencing enhancements for drug possession is scheduled to begin Jan. 27.
This all stems from Carranza, Trinidad and Luis Arreola hatching a plan to steal drugs from Zepeda, Rocio Alejandra Badilla, 23, and Kain Espinoza and Agustin Vazquez Velazquez, both 28.
Trinidad told Espinoza and Velazquez she wanted to buy three pounds of meth that Zepeda had allegedly supplied. But this was no drug buy as Arreola, an unnamed friend and Carranza–packing a gun–showed up at Velasquez's home in Montebello the same day and stole the meth at gunpoint.
Badilla, Espinoza, Velazquez and, it is alleged, Zepeda forced the friend to drive them
to Carranza's apartment complex in the 300 block of East Clifton Avenue, Anaheim, on April 25, 2012, when the meth was taken back and the invaders fled. That's also when Arreola was fatally shot in the neck, allegedly by Zepeda.
Carranza, who pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree robbery with sentencing enhancements for use of a gun, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday. Trinidad drew three years after copping to two counts of first-degree robbery.
Velazquez and Espinoza pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to conspiracy to commit a crime and admitted to a sentencing enhancement for possession of drugs. They are scheduled to be sentenced March 28. Badilla copped to extortion and was immediately sentenced to
three years in prison, essentially the jail time she had already served by then.
When various murder, kidnapping and drug charges were originally announced in May 2012, Carranza was looking at counts that could bring 45 years to life in state prison with a conviction while Trinidad faced 35 years to life. At that time, Badilla could receive 35 years to life, Espinoza 33 years to life and Velazquez life without the possibility of parole with guilty verdicts.
Life without parole is what presumably still hangs over Zepeda's head.