LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A state appeals court panel today upheld the convictions of two gang members for the murder of a 19-year-old Marine from Camp Pendleton, who was shot inside his car in South Los Angeles while on a weekend leave.
The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal found that Oscar Aguilar and Esau Rios “unquestionably intended to promote or assist each other's criminal conduct'' involving the Sept. 16, 2016, shooting of Lance Cpl. Carlos Segovia Lopez -- with Rios directing Aguilar to shoot the victim and Aguilar by complying.
The appellate court justices also rejected the defense's claims of other errors during the trial, including the judge's decision to allow jurors to hear that the victim was a Marine.
The victim was leaving his girlfriend's house when he saw the men peering into a parked car, called his girlfriend to inform her and was subsequently shot, according to the appellate court panel's ruling.
Segovia Lopez was found covered in blood and slumped over the steering wheel. He was taken off life support three days later after doctors informed his family that he could not be saved.
Aguilar, now 30, and Rios, now 33, were arrested by Los Angeles police nearly two months later and have remained behind bars since then.
The two men were convicted in May 2019 of one count each of first-degree murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, and jurors found true allegations that Segovia Lopez's killing was committed in association with or for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Jurors also found Aguilar guilty of one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, and found true an allegation that he personally discharged a handgun.
Aguilar was sentenced in August 2019 to 100 years to life in state prison, while Rios was ordered to serve 50 years to life.
“There's a certain irony here that Carlos joins the military to defend his country and yet he's shot to death unarmed, out of uniform in the streets of Los Angeles,'' Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said at the pair's August 2019 sentencing.
At an October 2016 memorial service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the slain Marine's work with the homeless.
“For Carlos, that was not some class of other people. That was his brother,'' the mayor said then.
“At a moment when we want to denigrate each other because of where we come from, what uniforms we serve, or we think we know people before we know them, let us all stop and learn and find who we are -- the connections that unite us, not the ones that divide us,'' Garcetti said. “Let us make the passing of Carlos something that bring us together in service and love and unity. At the end of our days we're left with two things: Who did we know and what did we do. By that measure, Carlos, you left and led the most blessed of lives.''
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