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4 charged in slaying of woman who interrupted tagger in Pico Rivera

The alleged shooter is a teen charged as an adult. One suspect is at large.

August 18, 2007|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Four people were charged Friday with the murder of a Pico Rivera grandmother who was shot when she tried to stop a tagger from spray-painting graffiti on a wall in her neighborhood.

Chris Rojas, 16, the suspected triggerman, was charged as an adult in the slaying of Maria Hicks, 57, authorities said. Cesar Lopez and Jennifer Tafolla, both 19, and Richard Daniel Rolon, 21, who remains at large, were also charged.

In addition, the defendants each face felony counts for allegations of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, conspiracy, street terrorism and committing the murder to further a criminal street gang, authorities said. Rojas is also charged with one count of unlawful firearm activity and the special allegation that he intentionally discharged a firearm.

Those in custody pleaded not guilty to the charges during a brief hearing Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Whittier. They remain in jail in lieu of $4-million bail each.

A fifth person was arrested Thursday night in connection with Hicks' slaying, authorities said.

On Aug. 10, Hicks was driving home from visiting her sister in Whittier when she spotted a tagger spray painting a wall two blocks from her house near San Gabriel River Parkway and Woodford Street.

Hicks honked her horn and flashed her lights at the teenager. As he walked away, she followed him in her car. Suddenly, another car pulled up behind her and someone fired rounds through Hicks' rear windshield, Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide detectives said. She was struck in the back of the head and died Monday at a hospital.

Meanwhile, family and friends of Hicks gathered Friday morning at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Pico Rivera for a funeral Mass, followed by her burial.



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