A state appeals court panel Wednesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a Torrance man who acted as a lookout during a racially motivated December 2006 shooting that left a 14-year-old girl dead in the Harbor Gateway area.
The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered the case against Ernesto Alcarez to be sent back to Los Angeles Superior Court, citing a "sentencing error" in his sentence of 238 years and four months to life in state prison.
Alcarez was convicted in May 2012 of second-degree murder for the Dec. 15, 2006, shooting death of Cheryl Green, along with seven counts of attempted murder for others who were with the teen.
Jurors also found true hate crime, gang and firearm enhancements against Alcarez.
The girl's shooting death—which occurred in broad daylight on Harvard Boulevard near 206th Street—prompted community activists and religious leaders to call for peace and unity among blacks and Latinos in the neighborhood.
Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Ford told jurors during Fajardo's trial the evidence that the black teenager's slaying was racially motivated was "overwhelming."
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Stephen A. Marcus noted that the defense had argued that Alcarez was a "minor player in the crime," but said that he fundamentally disagreed with that notion.
"I believe that this crime would not have taken place if the defendant hadn't been there as the 'lookout,"' Marcus said.
Co-defendant Jonathan Fajardo was sentenced to death in April 2011 after being convicted of first-degree murder for Green's slaying and the Dec. 28, 2006, stabbing death of Christopher Ash, who was found dead in Carson after gang members mistakenly suspected him of having spoken to police about Green's shooting. Fajardo's appeal is still pending.
Three other men—Daniel Aguilar, Raul Silva and Robert Gonzales—were also convicted of Ash's murder.
Aguilar and Silva were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Gonzales was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Their convictions have been upheld on appeal, with the California Supreme Court refusing to review the case against them.
—City News Service.