|For Immediate Release
March 16, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
THREE GANG MEMBERS CHARGED WITH 1996 STABBING AND SHOOTING COLD CASE MURDERS
FULLERTON – The Orange County District Attorney filed charges today against three defendants for their role in two 1996 cold case murders, a Fullerton stabbing and Santa Ana shooting to benefit their criminal street gang. Joe Luis Garay, Jr., 33, La Habra, is charged with two felony counts of murder and sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity. If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 52 years to life in state prison. Kevin Jerome Carlson, 35, Chino Hills, and Armando Fred Parra, 33, Corona, are each charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. If convicted, they face up to 26 to life in state prison. Garay, Carlson, and Parra are scheduled for continued arraignment and bail review on March 20, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 8:00 p.m., on March 5, 1996, 16-year-old Troy Garena was waiting outside of his girlfriend’s home while she was inside getting money from her mother to go to a local market. Gang members Garay and Carlson are accused of driving by, stopping their car, getting out, and attacking rival gang member Garena. Garay and Carlson are accused of punching and stabbing the victim multiple times. Garena’s girlfriend’s mother heard screaming from outside and called 9-1-1. The defendants are accused of fleeing the scene. Garena died as he was being transported to the hospital.
At approximately 2:00 a.m., on May 12, 1996, gang members Garay and Parra are accused of driving in Parra’s car with several other gang members on First Street in Santa Ana. At a stoplight, the defendants are accused of engaging in a verbal confrontation with other gang members and two of their girlfriends in a white Nissan Maxima. When the defendants reached another red light at the intersection of First Street and South Birch Street, they are accused of shooting multiple times at the Nissan using two firearms. The other gang members and passengers in that car returned several shots at the defendants’ vehicle. Garay and Parra are accused of shooting and murdering one passenger in the Nissan, Martha Gonzalez, a 21-year-old mother. She was shot in the head. The defendants are accused of fleeing the scene.
In August 1996, Garay and Carlson were arrested for the Fullerton stabbing and murder of Garena. At the time of the arrest, Garay is accused of possessing a firearm in his home that would later be linked by forensic testing to the May 12, 1996, Santa Ana shooting. Charges were filed against Garay and Carlson for the Fullerton murder, but later dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Charges could not be filed at that time against Garay and Parra for the Santa Ana shooting-murder due to insufficient evidence.
Alfonso Frank Gomez, 34, a passenger in Parra’s car during the Santa Ana shooting, was convicted by a jury on Dec. 11, 1998, of several felony charges including murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
In April 2008, the Fullerton and Santa Ana Police Departments and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office began re-investigating the two 1996 murders after new evidence became available.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.