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Mother's murder trial starts

Woman is accused of being the getaway driver for her son and his friends in a retaliatory gang attack.

September 25, 2008|Jack Leonard | Times Staff Writer

As prosecutors tell it, Eva Daley was far from your average mom when she pulled her Chevy Tahoe up to a Long Beach alley last year and let her son and his teenage friends pile out.

Within minutes, the group had beaten and fatally stabbed a 13-year-old boy at a nearby park before rushing back to Daley's SUV, where she loaded them in and helped them escape, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

As Daley's murder trial began in a downtown Long Beach courtroom, Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lonergan accused the 31-year-old mother of helping the boys carry out the attack as part of a feud involving her son's gang and a rival group.

But her defense attorney portrayed Daley as a struggling mother intent on doing the best she could for a troubled son. Daley never stabbed anyone and had no idea some of the teenagers involved in the attack were carrying weapons, attorney Javier Ramirez said.

"She's a mother of three trying to make it through everyday life," he told jurors during opening statements. "She got caught up because . . . one of her kids has gone bad."

Daley, wearing a green tweed jacket, conferred quietly with her attorney during her first day of the trial. Near her sat Heriberto Garcia, a slim 17-year-old with closely cropped hair whom prosecutors charged as an adult and accuse of wielding the knife in the attack.

Both defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, face life sentences if convicted.

Jose "Terco" Cano was stabbed nine times, once in the heart, Lonergan told jurors. Blood from Cano and Garcia was found in Daley's truck, he said.

A witness told jurors that he saw a group of young men run back to a Chevy Tahoe on the night of the killing as the driver shouted: "Let's go! Let's go! Come on! Come on!" He testified that one of the boys said: "We slashed him good."

Prosecutors allege that Cano was a member of the local LT -- or Latin Thugs -- gang and that Daley's son, Mauricio "Smiley" Rivera, was a member of a rival gang known as LMS -- Local Marijuana Smokers.

Five teenagers, including Daley's son, have admitted their role in the assault and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Their plea deals mean they can be incarcerated as juveniles up to the age of 25. A sixth juvenile has yet to enter a plea.

Lonergan told jurors that the events leading to Cano's slaying began in December 2006 when he assaulted Daley's son, stabbing him in the side.

Six months later, on June 25, 2007, a group of LT members threw roadside flares at Daley's apartment.

One of her son's friends, Juan Bautista, testified Wednesday that he received a phone call that night from Daley's son telling him that rival gang members had slapped his mother and disrespected her at her home.

Daley arrived in her white Tahoe and picked Bautista up along with more of her son's friends, he said. She drove them back to her apartment on Pine Avenue, just north of downtown Long Beach.

When a police helicopter hovered overhead, Daley and the group left, first stopping at a gas station and then pulling over when they saw Cano and others standing in front of a Laundromat, Bautista said.

She pulled over and the teenagers, then ages 13 to 17, got out and chased Cano, cornering him by 14th Street Park, Bautista testified. He said he saw Garcia stab the boy about three times.

In court, Lonergan played a recording of Bautista's interview with detectives last year in which he admitted the group had searched for LT members to fight and that some in the group had been armed with a bat and a knife.

But under cross-examination, Bautista gave conflicting testimony, agreeing at one point that he had not seen Garcia do the stabbing but assumed he had because his finger had been cut during the assault.

And he testified that he had no intention of killing anyone that evening and was upset when he learned Cano had been killed.

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

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