Upon arrival, she knows the security measures: No cameras or tape recorders. No purses. All personal belongings must be carried in a plastic bag, and visitors must remove their shoes and belts for inspection.
Barajas hugged Aniceto, who wore glasses, neatly trimmed hair, a denim shirt and jeans. He has her Indian features, which earned him the nickname "Indio" from his friends.
Aniceto, an aunt, his sister and his mother sat down at a small round table and quickly the conversation turned to his mother's efforts to win him a new trial.
"She keeps saying, 'Don't lose faith. God is greater than this.' I say if God is so great, why am I here?" Aniceto said. He said he is heartbroken by what this ordeal has done to his mother, but he wants her to continue. "If I were guilty, I wouldn't allow my family to waste the money and time on my case," he said, shaking his head. "I would take my punishment like a man."
A religious woman, Barajas lives with two of her children in a South-Central neighborhood. Her yellow stucco home is adorned with paintings and statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the cross. She said her faith keeps her sane.
"Sometimes I feel like I can't go on and I want to scream at the top of my lungs to let out the pain," she said. But Barajas rarely raises her voice, expressing her frustration by wringing her hands. "I thank God for giving me strength."
Her three other children all believe in Aniceto's innocence, but they worry about the toll on their mother.
"I feel bad for her but we all want [Aniceto] out of prison," said her oldest son, Martin, 32.
Juana Aguinia, Barajas' younger sister, said she has seen her change from an outgoing, fun-loving person to an emotionally drained woman who rarely accepts invitations to parties.
"We invite her but she always says she is too tired," Aguinia said.
Because she lost her husband to gun violence, Barajas said she knows how the Garcia family has suffered from the murder of Jose Luis. At the trial, she tried to express her sympathy but relatives refused to talk to her.
On April 30, 1992, Garcia and about 15 other teenagers, including members of the White Fence gang, used the chaos of the riots' second day as an excuse to skip school and hold a "ditching party" at Monsignor Ramona Garcia Recreation Center in Boyle Heights, according to police reports.
Relatives described Garcia as a happy and intelligent high school student who was called "El Huero" or "the blond one" because he had blond hair and blue eyes. Garcia was not a gang member but hung out with a White Fence member named Julio Ortiz, trial witnesses testified.
About 1 p.m., a group of rival Opal Street gang members confronted several White Fence members in the gym, claiming the park was their territory. Garcia and Ortiz ran toward the nearby pedestrian passageway that stretches over the Pomona Freeway, according to witnesses. Two Opal Street gang members chased them, and in the darkness of the enclosed walkway Ortiz saw four flashes and Garcia fall, he later told police. Garcia was hit twice and died in the passageway.
While other witnesses gave contradictory accounts, Michael Martinez, 16, told police he saw two Opal Street gang members named "Indio" and "Turtle" run out of the tunnel.
The Indio nickname led police to Aniceto Barajas, who was 19 at the time.
Picture Is Picked at Police Lineup
Aniceto admitted to police that he had hung around Opal Street members about five years earlier but denied ever being a full-fledged member. Martinez and three other witnesses picked Aniceto's picture out of a group of six photos as one of the two who ran out of the tunnel.
Aniceto, who had no prior adult criminal record, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
His defense attorney presented five witnesses--including his mother--who testified to seeing him working at the auto shop six miles from the park that day. Barajas, who left work early because of the riots, said she saw her son around 1 p.m.--nearly the exact time of the murder.
But Snyder, the prosecutor, told the jury that most of the witnesses were family members or friends and likely to lie to protect Aniceto. Snyder also suggested that Aniceto could have left the shop, committed the crime and returned in only minutes.
Chances of acquittal seemed to improve when Martinez and another witness recanted their identification of Aniceto. "I was lying all about everything," one teenager testified. But Snyder suggested to the jury that they were threatened by gangs into recanting.
During the trial, Barajas said she often left court at the end of the day and took the bus to interview neighbors around the park in hopes of uncovering evidence to exonerate her son.
At one point, she said, she met two teenage girls who told her they knew the real murderer. But she said the girls refused to testify. The judge would not allow the allegations brought by Barajas into the trial, declaring it hearsay.