The California Supreme Court refused today to review the case against a gang member convicted in December 2010 of murdering five people in Los Angeles and Santa Monica during a crime spree that stretched over more than three years.
William Vasquez, who is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, was convicted of first-degree murder for the Jan. 27, 2002, killing of Alex Haro; the Dec. 3, 2003, slaying of Kevin Walton; the March 5, 2005, killings of Jonathan Hernandez and Hector Bonilla; and the Sept. 24, 2005, shooting death of Jesse Becerra.
He was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
In the Los Angeles killings, Haro and Walton were each shot three times, while Becerra suffered 20 gunshot wounds, including nine to the back of the head.
Hernandez and Bonilla were shot to death during a private party at the Moose Lodge in Santa Monica. Hernandez was shot 17 times, while Bonilla sustained eight gunshot wounds.
Two other men, Jose Mojarro and Erick Nunez, were convicted separately of first-degree murder for the killings of Hernandez and Bonilla, and were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Their convictions have already been upheld.
In an April 17 ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s claim that some of Vasquez’s convictions were not supported by the evidence.
The defense also unsuccessfully contended that the number of the charges served to inflame the jury.
“Simply put, the Santa Monica murders were no more violent and senseless (than) some of the other charged murders and did not unduly inflame the jury,” Presiding Justice Norman L. Epstein wrote on behalf of the panel, with Associate Justices Thomas L. Willhite Jr. and Nora M. Manella concurring.
Prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty against Vasquez, but opted not to seek a third penalty phase trial after two juries deadlocked on whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Just before being sentenced in March 2012, Vasquez said, “I want to tell you guys I didn’t do none of that stuff.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler responded that the defendant’s claim of innocence, given the facts in the case, was “embarrassing.”