The California Supreme Court refused today to review the case against a gang member convicted of murdering two people, including a 15-year-old boy, and trying to kill a dozen others in a crime spree in Santa Monica.
Jose Zapien was convicted in November 2013 of two counts of murder for the gang-related Feb. 28, 2006,shooting death of high school athlete Eddie Lopez and the Dec. 27, 2006, killing of Miguel Martin, 20.
Lopez was shot to death as he and two friends were eating snacks outside a liquor store, and Martin was killed while walking with friends through the parking lot of a park.
Jurors also found Zapien guilty of 12 counts of attempted murder for shootings – in which one person was struck by gunfire – between September 2004 and October 2006 in Santa Monica.
Authorities believe Zapien committed the bulk of the crimes in retaliation for the 2004 shooting death of a fellow gang member by a rival gang member.
He was sentenced in January 2014 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli admonishing him to "stop smiling" as one of the victim’s relatives was speaking.
In November, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that he should have been tried separately for the shootings in 2004 and 2006.
"No one incident was more inflammatory than another," the appellate court panel found in a 21-page ruling. "Rather, all charges arose from the same set of facts, basic and generic in the sense that they were gang-related drive-by shootings."
The appeals court justices found that he had "failed to make a clear showing" that the decision to consolidate his two cases had prejudiced him.
They also rejected the defense’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction on two of the attempted murder charges.