General Crime

* Hector Molina Sentenced To Life In Prison For Role In Killing Spree

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A San Pablo man will spend the rest of his life in prison for his role in a gang-related killing spree in San Pablo that randomly targeted people wearing red over a five-month period in 2007 and 2008. Contra Costa County Judge John Kennedy this morning sentenced 24-year-old convicted Surreno gang member Hector Molina to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 169 years for the murders of four people and the attempted murders of two others. “This callous decision to hunt human beings and murder them on public streets because they may be wearing red…demonstrates a level of depravity that we rarely see, even in the criminal justice system,” the judge said before handing down the sentence.

According to prosecutors, Molina and two fellow gang members decided to drive around San Pablo the night of Dec. 22, 2007, looking for rival gang members. When they came upon a group of teens in the area of Broadway, two of them wearing red, they opened fire. Molina shot and killed one of the boys in the head, 15-year-old Antonio Centron, and shot and badly injured 18-year-old Adrian Espinoza and a juvenile, Neil Wixson, Jr., according to authorities. On Feb. 16, 2008, Molina and a group of other Surrenos again took to the streets in search of rival gang members, prosecutors said. Molina drove a car as one of his co-conspirators, Jorge Camacho, shot and killed 27-year-old Luis Perez, who was not gang-affiliated but happened to be wearing red, according to prosecutors.

Molina was also convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Rico McIntosh, 37, on April 26, 2008. A jury found Molina guilty of second-degree murder for the death of a homeless 47-year-old woman identified as Lisa Thayer. Molina was present when one of Camacho’s stray bullets intended for another target fatally struck the woman, prosecutors said. Molina’s defense attorney said today said the defendant was not always a gang member, but crumbled under the pressure to become one at 17 after repeated beatings by gang members. He also said those assaults left Molina with significant brain trauma that, coupled with drugs and alcohol, helped lead to the San Pablo man’s “pernicious” behavior.

But Contra Costa Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari said Molina’s killings were well-planned acts of violence emulated by his fellow gang members. The prosecutor described how Molina and his co-conspirators celebrated after their killings and how the defendant would “brag to anyone who would listen” about the murders. “To call these acts evil is an understatement,” DeFerrari said. The court also heard emotional statements from several of the victims’ family members this morning. Molina, dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit with a clean-shaven head, declined to make a statement to the court today.

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