Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TEEN GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 50 YEARS TO LIFE FOR THE SHOOTING-MURDER OF A 13-YEAR-OLD RIVAL IN FRONT OF HIGH SCHOOL FOR
BENEFIT OF HIS GANG
*Defendant was 16 years old at the time of the crime
SANTA ANA – A teen gang member was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for the shooting-murder of a 13-year-old rival who was standing near Santa Ana High School for the benefit of his Hispanic criminal street gang. Ramon Diaz, 20, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 15, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstances murder for a criminal street gang purpose, with sentencing enhancements for the benefit of a criminal street gang and the personal, intentional discharge of a firearm resulting in death.
Prior to trial, co-defendant Oscar Hernandez, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, Anaheim, pleaded guilty on Sept. 8, 2011, to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in association with a criminal street gang. Hernandez, who was not in a gang but who acted as back-up during the initial confrontation, was sentenced to 16 years in state prison on Oct. 7, 2011.
On the afternoon of Sept. 10, 2008, Rodrigo Valle, Santa Ana, 16-year-old Diaz, and Hernandez were standing on opposite street corners just outside Santa Ana High School. As school let out, Diaz walked up to the Valle and asked him which gang he claimed. Valle uttered the name of a Hispanic criminal street gang and challenged Diaz to a fist fight. Diaz walked towards the victim who was backed against a fence. Hernandez stayed behind. As Valle struggled to escape but had nowhere to go, Diaz pulled a loaded semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and fired six shots at Valle. Valle was shot four times, including twice in the back. Diaz then fled the scene. As Valle lay bleeding on the street, several students who witnessed the murder, including Valle’s sister, came to his aid. The victim died less than two hours later at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
Valle’s mother told the court at the sentencing hearing today that she did not understand why her son’s life was taken. She further stated that her life has been destroyed and she will never recover.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Gang Unit prosecuted this case.