|For Immediate Release
Case # C-85522
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MULTIPLE CO-DEFENDANT UNPROVOKED SHOOTING-MURDER OF RIVAL IN 1991
*The defendant has been convicted of this crime three additional times, but the convictions were overturned on appeal
SANTA ANA – A La Habra criminal street gang member was sentenced today to 16 years to life in state prison for the 1991 shooting-murder of a rival gang member. This is the fourth trial and sentencing against this defendant for the same crime. Marco Antonio Damian, 41, La Habra, was found guilty by a jury Jan. 25, 2010, of one felony count of second degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for being vicariously armed with a firearm.
Co-defendants Emilia Ceniceros, 36, Edward Jose Maldonado, 37, and Gabriella Maldonado, 36, all of La Habra, were found guilty in a court trial on Oct. 8, 1991, of felonies including murder, assault with a firearm, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, first degree robbery, and shooting at an unoccupied vehicle.
These three defendants, who were all 16 or 17 years old at time of the crime, were direct filed as adults. Ceniceros and Gabriella Maldonado were the first two juvenile gang members to be charged as adults in Orange County. They were both sentenced to life in state prison with the possibility of parole. Edward Maldonado was turned over to the youth authority prison system to be released at age 25.
On Feb. 12, 1991, the four defendants and an unidentified fifth member of their gang drove into a rival gang neighborhood armed with a sawed-off shotgun. The defendants believed that members of the rival gang had vandalized Gabriella Maldonado and the unidentified gang member’s cars one week earlier and were searching for members of the rival gang with the intention of retaliating.
At approximately 10:45 p.m. the defendants drove around residential streets in the rival gang neighborhood shooting at cars and homes where they believed rivals lived. Damian then switched seats with the unidentified gang member, who had been driving, and drove down Stearns Avenue. As the defendants passed an alley, Ceniceros noticed 16-year-old Leo Huichochea in the alley and identified him as a rival to her co-defendants. The victim was a member of a rival gang, but not the particular gang that the defendants were seeking out.
Damian made a U-turn and pulled the car near the alley, where Huichochea was standing with a friend. Using the sawed-off shotgun, the unidentified gang member is accused of shooting the victim one time in the face, killing him. The defendants then fled the scene in the car driven by Damian.
On Feb. 15, 1991, and Feb. 16, 1991, police arrested the four defendants. The sawed-off shotgun was found by police in Gabriella Maldonado’s home. Ballistics experts linked the shotgun to the murder of Huichochea and the shootings of La Habra homes in the first known shotgun-ballistics match in Orange County.