Weekender Updater: Less Time for Armand Jones Killer, More Murders, Heist, Cops' Threat

This weekender you are updatered on: a reduced sentence for the killer of young actor Armand Jones; a conviction in a Santa Ana gang murder over a bike or a girl; the final sentence handed down in a botched San Juan Capistrano jewelry store heist that ended with two suspects dead; and prison also for a young man who drove a stolen car toward Huntington Beach cops.


Charles Michael Reynolds Gets Life for Murder of Freedom Writers Co-Star Armand Jones

Update: Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals recently reduced the sentence of a man convicted in the killing of Freedom Writers actor Armand Jones. Nicholas Diogenes Valerio, who had a minor criminal record, was 19 at the time of the shooting and played a lesser role in the robbery that preceded the slaying, should serve 25 years to life in prison rather than life without the possibility of parole, Goethals ruled. Valerio was among a half-dozen Long Beach gang members involved in the 2006 robbery of a Denny's restaurant in Anaheim, where bystander Jones was fatally shot. Several of Jones' relatives spoke at the court hearing, including his mother and grandmother, who said they have forgiven Valerio for what he did but still feel he needs to pay for his crime. Freedom Writers, which starred Hilary Swank as Long Beach schoolteacher Erin Gruwell, was Jones' first big movie role.

Daniel Alvarez Wanted for the Bumping Off of Another Santa Ana 18 y.o., Bruno Lopez Ugalde

Update: Daniel Alvarez, who eluded authorities for more than a year until he bragged about killing 18-year-old Bruno Ugalde to a cousin who turned him in, was convicted this week of murder. Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter said 21-year-old Alvarez fatally shot the fellow Santa Ana gang member in the face over a dispute about either a stolen bike or a girl. Ugalde was gunned down about 1:20 a.m. on May 8, 2012, at 502 E. Pine St., Santa Ana. The jury found Alvarez guilty of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a probationer and also found true a sentencing enhancement for the use of a firearm in the killing. That makes Alvarez eligible for a sentence of 50 years to life in state prison at a scheduled Nov. 13 hearing.

Leonbardo “Banda” Valladares, Held in Murder of Francisco Salgado Torres, Arraigned

Update: Leobardo “Banda” Valladares was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in state prison for shooting and murdering a fellow patron during a confrontation outside a Stanton bar. Villadares, 45, of Anaheim, had been found guilty by a jury last month of one felony count of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. He and 48-year-old Francisco Salgado Torres got into a tussle the night of Sept. 15, 2013, outside Oasis Bar, where Valladares pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the face and chest before running off. The Orange County Sheriff's Department then spread photos of Valladares through the media, and “Banda” surrendered at the Garden Grove Police Department five days after the shooting.

Adrian Coates Accused of Driving Stolen Vehicle at Surf City Cops Before He was Fired On

Update: Adrian Ortiz Coates, who is only 18, was sentenced this week to three years in prison for stealing a car that he drove toward officers while trying to make a getaway in Huntington Beach. He had pleaded guilty July 21 to felony charges of car theft, assault on a peace officer with a weapon and evading police while driving recklessly. Coates, who was behind the wheel of a stolen 1996 Honda Accord in the early morning hours of April 26, stopped at the end of a cul-de-sac as police got out of their patrol cars and ordered him and two other men out. Instead, Coates punched the gas pedal and drove toward the officers, who managed to get out of the way and fire at the car, hitting it several times. Coates got away until an Orange County sheriff's helicopter crew spotted the Honda, and he was subsequently arrested. No one was hurt in the incident.

Murder Counts for Alleged Would-Be Robber, 2 Lookouts and Getaway Driver in Blown Heist Where Jeweler Killed 2 Baddies
Update: George Anthony Boozer, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to his role in a botched jewelry store heist in San Juan Capistrano two years before, was sentenced this week to 12 years and four months in state prison as part of a deal with prosecutors that had him testifying against several other co-defendants. Robert Earl Avery and Desmond Brown, both 39-year-olds of Los Angeles, were killed on June 24, 2011, when the Monaco Jewelers owner opened fire. The surviving defendants were charged initially with murder under the “provocative act” theory that their actions caused their co-conspirators to be fatally shot. Boozer, 40, was the last defendant to be sentenced in the case.

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

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