|For Immediate Release
May 24, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
PAROLE DENIED FOR GANG MEMBER WHO MURDERED ONE AND INJURED THREE BY SHOOTING INTO VAN FULL OF INNOCENT VICTIMS IN 1992
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (Board), denied yesterday, May 23, 2011, the parole of a criminal street gang member who was convicted of the unprovoked 1992 shooting-murder of a father leaving a local high school after playing basketball with his roommates. Uciel Murgo, 37, formerly of Santa Ana, is currently being held at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe, CA. Murgo will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2016.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office opposed the parole and Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Odwald of the Major Narcotics Unit appeared at the hearing to defend public safety and advocate for justice.
The Board took into consideration the facts of the case, the victim impact statements, and Murgo’s prison record including his most recent serious violation for unauthorized sexual activity in a visiting room with an adult, before denying the inmate’s parole.
Facts of the Case
On April 15, 1992, victim Mauro Meza, 32, and his eight roommates got into Meza’s car to return home after playing basketball at Santa Ana High School. Murgo, then-20 years old and a criminal street gang member, approached the victim on one side of the car armed with a firearm as the victim was exiting the school. An unidentified armed accomplice walked up on the other side of the vehicle. Murgo fired several shots into the van, murdering Meza. Passenger Widiulfo M., 24, was shot in the head, rendering him unconscious. He underwent surgery and suffers permanent impairment. Passenger Benito M., 19, was shot in the back and Catarino G., 17, was shot in his hand. The three injured surviving victims were transported to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. The victims did not know Murgo or do anything to provoke him. Witnesses called 911.
The Santa Ana Police Department investigated the case and nine days later arrested Murgo. On June 6, 1993, Murgo pleaded guilty to the murder of Meza and attempted murder of the eight roommates.
Victim Impact Statements Opposing Murgo’s Release
Nine parole opposition letters have been submitted to the Board from family members of the victims. Meza’s youngest son stated, “My father was a respectful, happy and loving parent who I never got to know. So I ask ‘Why Uciel Murgo should be given any thought of any sort of freedom?’ He once had his freedom and instead he decided to kill Mauro Meza Vergara, my father, when I was only one and a half.”
One of Meza’s daughters wrote, “My eyes get watery just to trying to relive what happened that day. We were ten years old and remember a person coming to our house asking for an ambulance because my dad was shot, my mom panicking and running without shoes towards the van… there is no forgiveness in my heart that now I am alone with no support of my family when others have one to share great moments… and I’m depressed that there is no father’s day for me. It’s these times that I remember and become angry at my father’s killer. Why? Why?”