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Triple-Murderer Gets Death

Alfred Flores, who killed teens for refusing to join his gang, laughs at the survivors.

May 20, 2003|Joy L. Woodson | Times Staff Writer

An El Monte gang leader who murdered three San Bernardino County teenagers when they refused to join his gang was sentenced to death Monday after he turned and laughed at the victims' families in court.

"Quite frankly, I think Mr. Flores does fall into the category of the worst of the worst," Superior Court Judge Ingrid Uhler said as she sentenced a defiant Alfred Flores III, 23. "He has absolutely no remorse, as if he has no soul."

The triple murder came in March 2001 as Flores was trying to expand his gang's territory into the Inland Empire; when the three teenagers rejected his offer, they were shot to death.

In April, a jury convicted Flores of killing Rialto teens Ricardo Torres, 15; Jason Van Kleef, 18; and Alexander Ayala, 17. The jurors also voted for the death penalty, and on Monday, relatives of the slain teens asked for the same.

Flores, who glared at members of the audience and slouched in his chair, offered no statements and only laughed at demands for his execution.

"Laugh all you want," said Torres' sister, Alejandra. "I hate you. We hate you," she said.

Ayala's sister, Ruth Roybal, said Flores had the "heart of a coward, heart of a demon that came to kill and destroy."

Prosecutors said they hope Flores' death sentence will close what they described as a violent criminal career.

Flores, who was recruited into a gang at age 10, has confessed to killing a man who slept with his mother. He also played a role in the shooting of a former girlfriend and the stabbing of a youth counselor in the face with a pencil, according to prosecutors. Flores was described by authorities as a leader of an El Monte gang known for menacing the neighborhood.

Just days before the killings, Flores went on a crime spree, holding up at least two restaurants at gunpoint and shooting and injuring a handful of bystanders, police said. He was accompanied by a fellow gang member, Andrew Mosqueda, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the crimes.

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Expanding His Gang

After the holdups, Flores decided he would expand his gang into San Bernardino County and sought to recruit the three teens, who were introduced to him by Mosqueda. Ayala and Van Kleef attended an alternative high school in Fontana with Mosqueda. Authorities said the victims had no gang ties.

Relatives said that the teens had no idea what was in store for them when they agreed to meet Flores and that they balked when asked to join the gang.

The first victim, Torres, was shot several times March 19 as he and Flores were drinking beer. His body was found in Lytle Creek, a ravine in San Bernardino National Forest.

The second victim, Van Kleef, had witnessed Torres' murder and was shot once in the back of the head because of it, police say. His body was found alongside a road in an industrial part of Rialto.

The third victim, Ayala, also refused to join the gang and was shot several times. His body was found within a quarter-mile of Torres' body.

Flores' attorney argued that someone else committed the killings and that Flores would not reveal the true killer because he didn't want to be a snitch.

Torres' family said he had been friends with Mosqueda since he was 11. They had no idea that Mosqueda knew Flores or was a gang member.

Rebeca Torres, Ricardo's mother, said that her son was too young, too trusting and too friendly: "Sometimes in my night time I think

"When I found out [Mosqueda] was the connection, I felt afraid because all the times I opened my house for him," she said before the sentencing hearing. "I [saw] in his face that he [was] a good friend for my son."

During the trial, Mosqueda, 19, delivered the most damning testimony. He said Flores, known as "Wizard," shot Torres in front of him.

After the shooting, Flores fled to Mexico. At that time he was only wanted for questioning. Detectives enlisted the help of television's "America's Most Wanted," where Flores was featured in a June 2001 episode.

Flores was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol officers in September 2001 when he tried to cross the border near Tecate, Calif. An officer followed footprints and found Flores hiding behind a bush.

Officials said that upon running Flores' fingerprints through the immigration agency database his prints came up with an alert. Only after checking the prints against a broader tracking system did authorities find out he was wanted for the killings.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department brought Flores back. A 9-millimeter handgun, later identified as the murder weapon, was later recovered by sheriff's detectives.

Flores is awaiting trial in connection with the killing of the man who had a relationship with his mother.

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Another Charge

In a tape played to jurors, Flores confessed to shooting 22-year-old Mark Jaimes at a motel and stowing his body in the trunk of a stolen car. Prosecutors said Flores killed the man because he had been a customer of Flores' mother, who was a prostitute.

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