General Crime

* Gilroy’s Slain Norteno Gang Member Larry Martinez Friends Edgardo Centeno, 19, Cristian Giovanny Jimenez, 21, Robert Henry Barrios, 20, Angel Solorzano, 19, Heather Ashford, 18 Charged With Murder

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Five Gilroy residents were charged today in connection with an alleged gang-related fatal shooting in November 2008.Gilroy police have arrested Edgardo Centeno, 19, Cristian Giovanny Jimenez, 21, Robert Henry Barrios, 20, Angel Solorzano, 19 and Heather Ashford, 18. A juvenile suspect is also in custody. The adult suspects, three of whom were friends of the victim, were formally charged with the November 11, 2008, murder of Larry Martinez this afternoon. Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr stood outside the courthouse and explained to reporters the state law she hopes will help convict the victim’s associates as well as the gunmen.Carr’s office is using a California law known as the provocative act murder rule to prosecute Solorzano, Ashford and Barrios, even though they were companions of Martinez and with him when Centeno, Jimenez and a juvenile suspect allegedly opened fire.”They may consider themselves the victims,” Carr said in a news conference in Morgan Hill today.However, she said California law “allows us to prosecute persons who commit an act that elicits a deadly response.”In other words, prosecutors can charge suspects with murder if they were involved in a crime that leads to somebody’s killing. As in the Gilroy case, suspects can face murder charges even though they did not pull the trigger and had no intention of harming the victim. Carr said that Martinez, Solorzano, Ashford and Barrios were all allegedly members or associates of a Norteno street gang. On Nov. 11, 2008, the group was driving in Gilroy, she said, when Centeno, Jimenez and the juvenile suspect apparently threw a rock at their car.Centeno, Jimenez and the juvenile are allegedly affiliated with a Sureno street gang, Carr said. Later that day, Martinez, Solorzano, Ashford and Barrios returned to the area and tried to sneak up on the others with a baseball bat, according to police reports. Centeno, Jimenez and their companion allegedly turned around and fired on the rival gang members with at least two firearms, Carr said. Martinez died as a result of the shooting.The “deadly response” in this scenario, according to Carr, is the act of sneaking up on known gang members while brandishing a bat as a weapon.Carr believes this case is the first in the county to apply the provocative act murder rule. It has been applied successfully in Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions, she said. Her office chose to invoke the law for Martinez’s murder because there is enough evidence to prosecute suspects on both sides, she said.Gilroy Chief of Police Denise Turner thanked Carr for “going out on a limb and doing this unusual filing.”She said this case is an example of the varied means law enforcement is using to discourage gang activity. Of Gilroy’s 51,000 residents, Turner said that roughly 900 are gang members or affiliates. Gang activity usually spikes this time of year, since summer is beginning, she said, and her officers are “pulling out all the stops” in fighting gangs.All five of the adult suspects were arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court today.They are scheduled to return to the new South County courthouse June 16 at 1:30 p.m. for a plea entry.

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