Date of trial expected next week in gang murder case

Men and women allegedly linked to the death of Larry Martinez

Attorneys expect to set a trial date next week for four young
adults arrested for the 2008 murder of an 18-year-old.
Attorneys expect to set a trial date next week for four young adults arrested for the 2008 murder of an 18-year-old.

On Nov. 11, 2008, Larry Martinez was shot and killed by a rival gang in broad daylight near Sixth and Church streets, just blocks from the Gilroy Police Department, according to police. Invoking a rarely-used rule – the provocative act murder theory – District Attorney Dolores Carr charged not only the man police believe pulled the trigger, alleged Sureño gang member Cristian Jimenez, but also two of Martinez’s friends and his cousin for contributing to his death for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Robert Barrios, 21, Heather Ashford, 19, and Angel Solorzano, 20, did not intend to kill Martinez, their attorneys said. But even though they didn’t fire the gun that killed their friend and cousin, the three will stand trial for conspiracy and murder charges for contributing to Martinez’s death during a clash with a rival gang, prosecutors said. Martinez, Solorzano and Barrios were Norteño gang members, police said during a preliminary hearing. Their families disputed this claim.

Jimenez, 22, also faces a murder charge and a felony gun possession charge for pulling the trigger of the gun that killed Martinez, according to court documents.

If convicted, the defendants face life sentences. They were arrested nearly a year ago, on June 8, 2009.

About half an hour before the shooting, Jimenez and two other Sureños who are still at large – Edgardo Centeno, 20, and an unnamed juvenile – threw a rock at the car Martinez and Solorzano rode in while Ashford drove, according to police. After a brief discussion, Ashford, Martinez and Solorzano picked up Barrios and returned to confront the Sureños, police said. Armed with a small wooden bat, Martinez and his friends snuck up on the Sureños from behind, provoking the rival gang members to turn and shoot, prosecutors said.

The four defendants will appear in court 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Department 24 of the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said he expects to set a trial date at that hearing.

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