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Men ordered to stand trial in slaying of girl, 14

The gang members face murder and hate-crime charges in the Harbor Gateway shooting.

July 18, 2007|Sam Quinones | Times Staff Writer

Two Latino gang members were ordered to stand trial Tuesday on murder and hate-crime charges in the shooting death of a 14-year-old African American girl last fall that highlighted racial tensions in a Harbor Gateway community.

At a preliminary hearing held in Long Beach, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Arthur Jean ruled that there was enough evidence to try Jonathan Fajardo, 19, and Ernesto Alcarez, 20, in the killing of Cheryl Green.

They are scheduled for arraignment July 31.

The district attorney will decide later whether to pursue the death penalty against the two men.

Both are admitted members of the 204th Street gang, which police and residents say has a long history of harassing and assaulting blacks.

Green was fatally shot Dec. 15 as she stood with some friends outside a house in the 20600 block of South Harvard Boulevard.

Los Angeles police officers testified Tuesday that Fajardo and Alcarez separately confessed to participating in the shooting.

Det. William Smith said Fajardo admitted shooting Green but called it an accident, saying he was aiming for black men standing nearby.

Smith said Fajardo told him that he and other gang members had earlier approached a sport utility vehicle driven by a black man, who pulled a gun as they came near, then drove off.

Smith said Fajardo said he was also angry at rumors that a black man had shot to death an uncle of a 204th Street gang member a week before.

Fajardo "was upset and wanted to earn his stripes," Smith said.

He said Fajardo told him he ran to the nearby house of Christopher Ash, a gang associate, got a pistol from under a sofa, and went looking for the SUV driver.

He and Alcarez found several black youths two blocks away, though none was the driver, Smith said.

Witness Anthony Butler testified that Fajardo had pointed the gun at him and his 6-year-old brother.

After the gun misfired, Butler said, Fajardo pointed it at Green and others standing nearby and fired several times.

Fajardo and four others face separate murder charges in the death of Ash, 25. He was stabbed more than 80 times and dumped onto a cul-de-sac in Carson two weeks after Green's death.

Police allege that 204th Street gang members killed Ash, believing he had informed on Fajardo, who was by then on the run from authorities.

sam.quinones@latimes.com

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