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16-year-old gang member gets 90 years to life for killing 1-year-old

June 21, 2013|By Matt Hamilton

A gang member who last year shot and killed a 1-year-old boy while the toddler was being held in his father's arms was sentenced Friday to 90 years to life in prison.

In the incident last June, Donald Ray Dokins, then 15, rode his bicycle to a home on the 10500 block of Hickory Street in Watts and opened fire, killing 14-month-old Angel Mauro Cortez Vega and injuring his father, Mauro Cortez.

Authorities said Dokins, a member of the Fudgetown Mafia Crips gang, saw the father’s purple T-shirt and assumed he was a member of Varrio Grape Street, a rival gang.

Cortez, who was born in rural Mexico, is “absolutely not” a gang member, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Gomez, who prosecuted Dokins.

The deadly shooting reverberated beyond Watts and drew outrage in the city, with Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino securing a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer. AEG, which owns the Los Angeles Kings and the Staples Center, doubled the reward.

Dokins was convicted in April of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Jury deliberations took less than 90 minutes, according to Gomez, a member of the D.A.’s hard-core gang division.

During the three-week-long trial, jurors heard from the child’s parents as well as a neighbor who discovered the shooter’s gray hooded sweatshirt as it burned in an abandoned property, prosecutors said. On the charred sweatshirt’s cuff and collar, authorities found Dokin’s DNA.

Dokins, now 16, was prosecuted as an adult, Gomez said. He’ll remain in the Department of Juvenile Justice until he is 18 before serving the rest of his sentence in prison.

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