YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Craigslist ad killing: Reputed gang members plead not guilty

November 12, 2013|By Ari Bloomekatz

Two reputed gang members on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges that they ambushed and shot to death a man who was responding to a Craigslist ad for a cellphone.

Markell Thomas, 18, and Ryan Roth, 17, entered their pleas Tuesday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court. They were both charged with murder in late October, as well as attempted murder and second-degree robbery with gang enhancements, authorities said.

Roth, a minor, was charged as an adult.

HOMICIDE REPORT: Tracking killings in L.A. County

The pair allegedly killed 41-year-old Rene Balbuena on Oct. 19 after he drove to the 9700 block of South Gramercy Place in South L.A. to buy a cellphone for his 15-year-old son.

Balbuena and his son had seen the ad for the phone on Craigslist.

Police allege that Roth fired the fatal shots but that Thomas also jumped into the back seat of the car and pointed a gun at Balbuena's son. His father was killed in front of him, authorities said.

While the case was initially difficult for detectives to solve, they were soon able to link the crime to a string of other robberies in the area.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Roth and Thomas both pleaded not guilty Tuesday and remained in custody without bail. 


Suspect in fatal Hollywood party bus shooting identified

Witnesses sought in fatal shooting of 14-year-old in Vermont Square

Meatball the bear's biggest fan in tiff with sanctuary over copyrighted name

Twitter: @aribloomekatz | Facebook

Los Angeles Times Articles