A Border Brothers gang member was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering two young men he mistakenly believed were members of a rival gang in separate incidents in Oakland on the same day four years ago. At an emotional and packed hearing that lasted nearly two hours and was guarded by six bailiffs, Ivan Ordaz, 30, apologized to the victims’ family members, saying, “I want to express my sincere condolences and deepest sympathies” and “I truly am sorry for my actions.” In a reference to his criminal activities when he belonged to the gang, Ordaz said, “At one point in my life I didn’t care much for my life and anyone else’s.” He said he now studies the Bible and “I have faith that all the evil in the world will soon end.” Ordaz said, “I don’t blame anyone but myself for what I done.”
On June 1, Ordaz was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Tomas Melero-Smith, 19, and second-degree murder for the death of Allan Mejia, 22. Both murders occurred on Sept. 1, 2007. Prosecutor John Brouhard said Melero-Smith and Mejia didn’t belong to gangs. Ordaz also was convicted of two special circumstances, committing multiple murders and killing to promote a gang. In the first incident, Mejia, who came to the U.S. from Honduras four years earlier, was fatally shot at about 2 a.m. as he rode in a car that got trapped in a sideshow near the corner of 90th and Bancroft avenues in Oakland. Other members of the Border Brothers gang began attacking the car and when Ordaz arrived after the attack began he fired shots into the car, believing his fellow gang members were in a fight with rival gang members, according to Brouhard.
Mejia was hit by several bullets and died. In the second incident, 17 hours later at about 6:30 p.m. that day, Melero-Smith, who worked as a youth recreation leader in Oakland, was hanging out with friends in the 2100 block of 94th Avenue in Oakland when Ordaz drove by with another gang member and saw the group. Brouhard said Ordaz thought the group belonged to a rival gang so he jumped out of the car, ran up to the group and fatally shot Melero-Smith. Family members of Melero-Smith and Mejia spoke in court today about the pain they still feel about their deaths. Melero-Smith’s mother, Alicia Melero, said, “Losing a child is devastating and my life will never be the same.” Melero said he was the youngest of her five children and “was everything a mother could ask for,” saying he was “quiet, shy and respectful.” She said “his love was basketball” and he played basketball at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, where he graduated three months before he was killed.
Family members said Melero-Smith planned to attend Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and then transfer to the University of California at San Diego. Melero called Ordaz “a cold-blooded murderer who shot at kids who couldn’t defend themselves” and told him, “I will never forgive you for taking my son away from me.” Mejia’s mother, Norma Mejia, said her son “had so many dreams” and because of his death “I’ll never be the person I was before.” Mejia’s brother, Roger Mejia, said Mejia “had dreams” of a bright future and worked hard, working at a foundry during the week and as a landscaper on weekends. Ordaz’s older sister, Anna Ordaz, said she doesn’t condone what he did but said “my brother is a good person” and has “so much kindness.”
She said her brother committed the crimes because he was on drugs and suffered “years of abuse.” Ordaz said, “Justice has not been served” and her brother should be given treatment instead of locked up in prison for the rest of his life. But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson said, “This is not a situation of making a mistake and deserving a second chance,” saying that Ivan Ordaz was an active gang member for 10 years and engaged in “a monstrous lifestyle.” Jacobson said many people use alcohol and drugs but “very few of them are murderers and even fewer of them are double-murderers.”
Jacobson also sentenced another Border Brothers gang member, Jose Castillon, 29, to 17 years in state prison for his plea to voluntary manslaughter and other charges for being the driver in the shooting in which Melero-Smith was killed. Castillon also was present when Mejia was killed but wasn’t charged for that incident. Castillon told the families of Melero-Smith and Mejia, “I’m really sorry for what happened.”
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