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Angeles County | Community News File / El Monte

Man Sentenced to Death in Execution-Style Slayings

May 09, 1998

The last of six men suspected of being members of a Mexican Mafia gang who killed an El Monte family execution-style three years ago was sentenced to death Friday.

Superior Court Judge Charles Horan imposed the death penalty on 28-year-old Luis Maciel, who authorities said recruited people to carry out orders of a prison gang to kill the family April 22, 1995. Maciel was convicted of murder on Jan. 30 after a trial.

Prosecutors argued that the deaths were ordered by a Mexican Mafia prison gang as retribution against one of the victims, Anthony Morena, 42, for his decision 12 years earlier to leave the group in violation of a gang code.

The other victims were Morena's sister, Maria, 38; her son, Ambrose Padilla Jr., 6 months; her daughter, Laura, 5; and a friend Gus "Tito" Aguirre, 36. One child survived by hiding under a pile of debris.

The gunmen, Richard Anthony Valdez, 25, of West Covina and Jimmy Palma, 25, of Arcadia, were sentenced to death last June, and another accomplice, Anthony Torres, 31, of Alhambra, is serving life without opportunity for parole. Two others involved in the killings, Daniel Logan, 21, of Pasadena and Jose Ortiz, 26, of San Gabriel, are serving 129 years to life.

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