Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE PLUS MULTIPLE LIFE TERMS FOR SHOOTING-MURDER OF 18-YEAR-OLD
MISTAKEN AS RIVAL
WESTMINSTER – A gang member was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole plus multiple additional life terms for the shooting-murder of an 18-year-old mistakenly believed to be a rival. Mauro Ramirez, 24, Santa Ana, was found guilty by jury April 7, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstance murder in the commission of a drive by shooting and for the benefit of a criminal street gang, one felony of count attempted murder, and one felony count of street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member.
Co-defendant Paul Raymond Coffee, 26, Santa Ana, was sentenced to 21 years in state prison after pleading guilty Feb. 8, 2011, to one felony count voluntary manslaughter with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity.
Flavio Roberto Arellano, 22, Santa Ana, (Case #11CF0637) is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang and one felony count of street terrorism with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Arellano is being held without bail and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing July 15, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
The following facts were presented during Ramirez’s jury trial:
The defendants are members of a Santa Ana criminal street gang. At approximately 7:00 p.m. on June 10, 2006, defendants Ramirez, Coffee, and Arellano were driving in a mini-van in rival gang territory with three other gang members. The vehicle slowed down as the defendants passed an apartment complex, where 18-year-old Esteban Cuellar was standing outside with a friend. The defendant drove away, circled the block, and drove back to the apartment complex. They opened the door to the van and began shooting at the two victims, whom the defendants believed to be rivals. The defendants then fled the scene.
The victims were part of a tagging crew but were not members of a criminal street gang. Cuellar was shot in the chest and died at the scene. His friend, John K., was also shot in the chest and survived. The Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) began investigating this case.
Two weeks after the murder, SAPD received a complaint of two gang members hanging out in the street with a firearm. Ramirez was one of the gang members. When officers arrived, Ramirez and the other gang member attempted to run away and tossed the firearm in a trashcan. Both men were caught and arrested. The firearm that had been dumped in the trash was