SAN FRANCISCO, CA (The San Francisco Chronicle) – Two members of the violent MS-13 street gang were convicted of executing a father as he celebrated his birthday in San Francisco’s Mission District nearly three years ago, prosecutors said Friday.
The San Francisco Superior Court jury deliberated for three days before returning guilty verdicts Thursday against Jose Mejia-Carrillo, 24, and Alexis Cruz-Zepeda, 25, in the March 17, 2017, killing of George Martinez.
Mejia-Carrillo was found guilty of first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm, along with gun and gang enhancements. Cruz-Zepeda was found guilty of one count of criminal street gang conspiracy for acting as the lookout and distracting Martinez while Mejia-Carrillo fired the deadly shots.
The verdict “brings long-awaited justice to the victim and his family and represents a line in the sand that brazen gang violence of this nature will not be tolerated in this community,” Assistant District Attorney Adam Maldonado said.
The case centered around the defendants’ participation in the 20th Street clique of the brutal Mara Salvatrucha gang, known as MS-13. Maldonado described how the killing was part of a larger effort by the gang to become more powerful by using violence to spread fear in the neighborhood.
The night of the murder, Martinez, 44, was with his adult son at the Beauty Bar on 19th and Mission streets. The men had been at a Warriors game in Oakland and decided to stop by the bar on the way back to their San Bruno home.
Little did they know, prosecutors said, MS-13 members were in the bar and mistook Martinez as a rival gang member. Mejia-Carrillo and Cruz-Zepeda followed Martinez out of the bar as he and another man got into a car on 19th Street.
Mejia-Carrillo was captured on security video crouching next to a car behind the vehicle while Cruz-Zepeda walked by smoking a cigarette.
Martinez got out of the car and briefly spoke to Cruz-Zepeda as Mejia-Carrillo sneaked up from behind and shot him in the back before putting a second bullet in his head. The execution was captured by a nearby market’s security camera.
Prosecutors said Mejia-Carrillo fled the scene on foot, dropping his cell phone and ditching the murder weapon in a trash bin in a dark corner of a nearby parking lot. When investigators searched the phone, they found selfie videos of Mejia-Carrillo flashing MS-13 gang signs while riding BART a week before the shooting.
A witness described hearing someone ask Martinez if he was a Norteño, a gang rival of MS-13, seconds before the shooting.
Investigators later found Mejia-Carrillo’s DNA on the murder weapon, prosecutors said.
Since being arrested, Cruz-Zepeda has gotten several tattoos while in San Francisco Jail, including “MS-13” on his hand and devil horns — a common symbol of the gang — on his arm.
The trial may be the last case with gang enhancements charged by the district attorney’s office for the foreseeable future. The incoming district attorney, Chesa Boudin, has pledged to stop charging gang enhancements when he takes office Jan. 8, citing stark racial disparities in how the law is applied.
Gang enhancements, which add additional years to a sentence for an underlying felony, make communities less safe by creating tension between law enforcement and minority neighborhoods, Boudin said during his campaign for district attorney.
*Of course, San Francisco has long been a ‘sanctuary city,’ and as such, gave way to the murders of the Bologna family in 2008, by an MS-13 gang member; and Kate Steinle in 2015, by illegal alien, Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate.
Apparently, this once, beautiful city which has given way to gang violence, feces-filled sidewalks and even the open (now decriminalized) use of heroin in the streets, has decided to continue this downward spiral by also decriminalizing hyper-violent street gangs.
It is also worthy of note that San Francisco’s incoming district attorney, Chesa Boudin, once served in the administration of the now deceased Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. Boudin’s parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert were members of the Weather Underground terrorist group, and both were convicted for their roles in the murders of two police officers and a security guard in 1981 in Rockland County, New York. After his parents went to prison, Boudin was raised in Chicago by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
If you’re going to San Francisco….Well, maybe you shouldn’t!