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STANTON : Killing for Skateboard Nets Gang Teen Life

October 29, 1994|RENE LYNCH

A 17-year-old gang member was sentenced Friday to 29 years to life in prison for fatally shooting another teen-ager last year in a dispute over a skateboard.

Rogelio Garcia will stay at a California Youth Authority facility until he turns 25, and will serve the remainder of his sentence in state prison, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gary Paer said.

The August, 1993, incident began as a teen-age squabble. Christopher Vargas, 14, refused to give up the skateboard he used to navigate the streets of his Stanton neighborhood. Eduardo Guerrero, 15, was determined to get the skateboard and sought the help of a local street gang.

Gang members recruited Garcia, who was 16 at the time, to seek revenge, and the teen-ager gunned down Vargas as the victim's mother tried to shield him from the bullet, said Paer.

"The victim didn't want to give up the skateboard and he was gunned down, execution-style," said Paer, who added that Vargas was scheduled to move from the neighborhood the following day.

Defense attorney William Monroe said Garcia is also a victim of gang violence and was afraid to refuse when gang members enlisted him.

"All this sentence does is compound the tragedy," Monroe said.

Guerrero was convicted of second-degree murder and will be released from the California Youth Authority when he turns 25.

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