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Mother convicted in a teen's fatal stabbing

October 07, 2008|Jack Leonard | Times Staff Writer

A Long Beach mother accused of helping organize a gang-related attack by driving her teenage son and his friends to and from the scene of a fatal stabbing was found guilty Monday of second-degree murder.

Eva Daley, 31, faces 15 years to life in prison for the killing of 13-year-old Jose Cano, who was assaulted last year by alleged gang members at a park just north of downtown Long Beach.

Daley portrayed herself during the trial as a struggling single mother of three who had little idea that her oldest was in a gang.

She testified that she was driving her son's friends home in the evening when they suddenly jumped out of her white Chevy Tahoe and carried out the assault.

But Los Angeles County prosecutors rejected her story, saying the attack was planned in revenge for an incident hours earlier in which a group of youngsters from the victim's gang threw roadside flares at Daley's apartment.

Although it is common for parents to say they had no idea their children were gang members, Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lonergan said Daley's case was unusual because she was found guilty of actually taking part in one of the gang's crimes.

"This is the first time I've filed [charges] on a parent who has crossed that line of putting up with things to participating in things," he said after the verdict. "There's no doubt in my mind . . . that she knew exactly what was going on."

The jury took fewer than three days to reach guilty verdicts against Daley and her 17-year-old co-defendant, Heriberto Garcia.

Garcia, also convicted of second-degree murder, was accused of inflicting the fatal knife wounds. Though 15 at the time of the attack, he was tried as an adult.

Six other boys, including Daley's son, now 17, have pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges and can be incarcerated as juveniles up to the age of 25.

Jose was stabbed nine times, once in the heart, in the June 25, 2007, attack. Six months earlier, he had been a suspect in a knife assault on Daley's son but was never arrested, prosecutors said.

In his closing arguments last week, defense attorney Javier Ramirez reminded jurors that Daley testified she believed she was taking her son's friends home and had no idea what they were planning as they sat behind her.

"Is it hard to believe that a group of teenage boys were in the back of the car talking and she's not paying attention because she's on the phone with her boyfriend with her radio blasting?" Ramirez asked jurors.

Daley testified that she believed that the boys -- then ages 13 to 17 -- had jumped out at one point during the ride because they recognized a friend. They climbed back in, she said, because they had been mistaken. When they jumped out again near 14th Street Park, she said she thought they had seen another friend.

She testified that she initially told detectives that she knew nothing about the assault to protect her son, Ramirez said, adding that she was scared because police threatened to remove her children from her home.

"That's a human reaction, very understandable," Ramirez told jurors.

But Lonergan said there was plenty of evidence that Daley knew what was going on.

A passerby walking his dog near the assault testified that he heard a female driver of the getaway car tell the youngsters as they rushed back after the assault, "Let's go! Let's go! Come on! Come on!" Prosecutors said blood from Garcia and the victim was discovered in Daley's vehicle.

Several of the boys involved in the attack testified that they had jumped out the first time to attack another rival gang member but noticed that he was not alone.

They also said that when they got back to the SUV after Jose's stabbing, they heard Garcia brag that he had knifed the boy.

Superior Court Judge Arthur Jean is scheduled to sentence Garcia on Oct. 28 and Daley on Nov. 4.

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

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