For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
GANG MEMBER FACES TRIAL FOR SHOOTING-MURDER OF MAN DURING DRUG THEFT
SANTA ANA – A criminal street gang member faces trial Tuesday for the shooting-murder of a man to steal his drugs. Joseph Baez, 28, Orange, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and for the benefit of a criminal street gang, street terrorism, and sentencing enhancements for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Robert Reil, 33, Orange, was found guilty by a jury March 7, 2012, of one felony count each of first degree murder during the commission of a robbery, conspiracy to commit a robbery, street terrorism, and being an active participant in criminal street gang having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. The sentencing enhancements for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death and criminal street gang activity were found true. He was sentenced May 11, 2012, to 50 years to life in state prison.
Co-defendant Christian Galindo, 27, pleaded guilty Nov. 18, 2011, of one felony count each of voluntary manslaughter, and being an active participant in criminal street gang, with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. He was sentenced to 12 years and four months in state prison.
Co-defendant Amour Villamar, 33, Orange, is charged with one felony count of first degree murder during in the commission of a robbery with sentencing enhancements for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death, criminal street gang activity, and two prison prior convictions for possession of methamphetamine for sale in 2004 and unlawful taking of a car in 2009. Villamar is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing March 15, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. in Department C-45, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On Jan. 3, 2010, Baez is accused of plotting with Reil and Galindo to steal drugs from a man associated with fellow gang member Villamar. The defendants called Villamar and asked her to contact her drug dealer, Bernal Ezquivel Felix, to set up a meeting. Later that night, Villamar is accused of setting up a meeting in Orange with her co-defendants and Felix.
At approximately 11:00 p.m., Baez and Reil are accused of taking firearms and going with Galindo and Villamar to meet Felix with the intention of robbing him. They pulled over in a residential area on Oak Street in Orange. While Galindo waited in his dark Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), Baez is accused of exiting the SUV with Reil and hiding nearby out of sight from Felix, who was in his white sedan driving slowly on Oak Street. Villamar exited Galindo’s SUV and got into the backseat of Felix’s slow-moving car under the pretense of purchasing drugs. Baez is accused of sneaking up to the driver’s side window of Felix’s car and murdering him by shooting the victim through the window. The victim’s car was still moving and came to a stop after hitting a parked car on the street. Villamar exited the victim’s vehicle empty-handed and all of the defendants returned to Galindo’s waiting vehicle. The four gang members then fled the scene.