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Gang member is sentenced to death

Miguel Angel Magallon, 26, was convicted of murder in the 2004 death of L.A. County police Capt. Michael L. Sparkes. The captain was shot nine times during an attempted robbery.

October 16, 2009|Richard Winton

Calling a 26-year-old gang member a predator responsible for a coldblooded killing, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced him Thursday to death for fatally shooting an off-duty county police captain.

Miguel Angel Magallon received his sentence from Judge Kathleen Kennedy in a downtown courtroom two months after a jury called for his execution in the murder of Capt. Michael L. Sparkes during an attempted robbery.

"Is the defendant a predator? I think he is a predator," said Kennedy, denying Magallon's defense motion for a new trial. "It is clear that Capt. Sparkes was a completely innocent victim and any one of us could have found ourselves in that position on that fateful morning."

As Sparkes' widow looked on, Kennedy said the crime "was a coldblooded killing, plain and simple."

Magallon was driving with an accomplice in the early morning of Aug. 10, 2004, when he came upon Sparkes taking his predawn bicycle ride in unincorporated Rosewood near Compton. Magallon got out of his car and tried to rob Sparkes, then shot him with an AK-47 before running back to the vehicle.

Wounded, Sparkes called 911 on his cellphone, saying "officer down." But before help could arrive, Magallon had the accomplice drive the car back around so he could fire a second round at Sparkes.

Sparkes was shot a total of nine times in an alley near Redondo Beach and Avalon boulevards. But he managed to fire several rounds with his 9-millimeter Beretta, including one that would mark his killer. The round flew through a car door and hit Magallon in the abdomen, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Darren Levine said.

Sparkes, 53, died at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he supervised the security force.

The 30-year veteran of the county Police Department was survived by his wife, an adult stepdaughter and a 7-year-old son.

Magallon was convicted in July of first-degree murder and second-degree robbery. The conviction included special circumstance charges of murder during an attempted robbery and murder during a drive-by shooting.

The jury also found multiple special allegations, including murder to enhance a street gang and personal use of a firearm, prosecutors said.

Magallon's accomplice, Orvis Camilo Anthony, 24, pleaded guilty in September to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison, said Shiara Davila-Morales of the district attorney's office.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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