A former Santa Paula man has been convicted of first-degree murder for his role in a 1991 slaying at a crowded city park.
A Ventura County Superior Court jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday against Jesus M. Tellez, 21. He was convicted of murder in the shooting death of his cousin, Javier Tellez Garcia, 27, and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of another cousin, Jose Tellez Vasquez, 32, on June 23, 1991.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Carol J. Nelson said Jesus Tellez helped his brother, Arturo M. Tellez, track down the victims at Teague Park and helped him escape after Arturo fired the shots from a 9-millimeter pistol. The shootings occurred on a Sunday afternoon when the park was crowded with dozens of picnickers and children, Nelson said.
Investigators said the shootings were part of a long-running feud between branches of the Tellez family. The brothers disappeared after the shootings. Jesus Tellez was arrested in Texas in June, while Arturo remains at large.
Nelson said the case was difficult because she first had to prove that Arturo meant to kill the two men, then had to establish that Jesus was aware of Arturo's intentions.
"What people don't realize is that when you take it upon yourself to help somebody commit a crime, you're going to be equally guilty of that crime," Nelson said.
Deputy Public Defender Robert Willey argued that Jesus Tellez did not know what his brother was planning.
A hearing is scheduled today to decide when Tellez will be sentenced by Judge Allan L. Steele. He faces a maximum sentence of two life terms, Nelson said.