A Salinas man pleaded guilty Friday to his involvement in two gang-related homicides – including one that killed a 6-year-old boy — during 2010, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. Edmundo Pulido pleaded guilty Friday to the fatal shooting of 6-year-old Azahel Cruz on Mar. 23, 2010. Azahel was playing in the backyard of his home when a bullet struck him in the head. Police said the bullet that killed the boy appeared to have been intended for a Surenos gang member, a rival gang of the Nortenos.
At the time of the shooting, Pulido was driving a car with a fellow gang member. His passenger shot at a rival gang member, but missed. The bullet instead struck and killed the boy, Deputy District Attorney David Rabow said. The suspected shooter in that case, Berardo Camacho, will be on trial in March 2015, Rabow said. Pulido has also pleaded guilty to his involvement in a slaying carried out with two other Surenos gang members in unincorporated Castroville on Dec. 16, 2010. The District Attorney’s Office said in that slaying, Pulido shot and killed 18-year-old Efren Hernandez Vargas with a handgun. Vargas was shot multiple times at close range, police said.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department arrested Pulido in connection to the murder in San Diego on Jan. 5, sheriff’s Sgt. Terry Kaiser said following the 2010 homicide. Pulido has also pleaded guilty to felony assault and felony battery that occurred while in jail, Rabow said. By entering a guilty plea, Pulido will avoid the jury trial regarding the murder in Castroville scheduled for this Monday. Rabow said Pulido will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 35 years of his sentence. Judge Pamela Butler has set Pulido’s sentencing date for Nov. 14.
In January, Butler handed down a 63-year prison sentence to another Norteno gang member from Salinas, Kevin Letcher Rogers, for his part in the Dec. 16, 2010 homicide, as well as a April 28, 2010 homicide and for trying to have his girlfriend murdered in 2011 after he was arrested, according to Rabow. Rogers had been concerned that his girlfriend, who had been with him before the Salinas murder, might reveal information implicating him, Rabow said. Rabow solicited someone to murder his girlfriend in a call from jail.
The call was recorded by authorities and used to charge him, Rabow said. Investigators played the recording to the girlfriend, who agreed to provide details about Rogers and was relocated from Salinas for her protection, Rabow said. The driver in the December 2010 murder entered a plea and agreed to cooperate. He has not yet received his sentence, Rabow said.
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