A mother told a judge she doesn't understand why her 13-year-old son was taken from her.
The shooting death of Rodrigo Valle near Santa Ana High School was more than another case of a gang member getting off'd by a rival gang member. It was another case of babies killing babies in Santa Ana. Ramon Diaz, 20, wasn't yet 17 when he murdered Valle in cold blood after each had stared one down from opposing corners after school let out on Sept. 10, 2008.
The gunboy walked up and ordered Valle to state his gang, Valle gave the rival gang name and challenged Diaz to a fight, and Diaz struggled with Valle, who was pushed up against a fence before the older teen took a semiautomatic out of his waistband and fired six shots at Valle, who was struck by four rounds, two in his back. He died less than two hours later at Western Medical Center.
Oscar Hernandez, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty in September to essentially being Diaz's backup. Although Hernandez did not belong to a gang, he was by Diaz's side up to the moment his partner pushed Valle against the fence. Hernandez copped to one
felony count of voluntary manslaughter in association with a criminal
street gang and was sentenced in October to 16 years in state
Diaz was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in state
prison, having been found guilty by a jury in September of one felony count of special circumstances murder for a
criminal street gang purpose, with sentencing enhancements for the
benefit of a criminal street gang and the personal, intentional
discharge of a firearm resulting in death.
Valle's mother told the court at the sentencing hearing that
her life has been destroyed and she will never recover.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.