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Two charged with murder in Craigslist ad slaying of a father

October 28, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz

Two gang members have been charged with murder in connection with the slaying of a father who was responding to a Craigslist ad for a cellphone, Los Angeles police said Monday.

Ryan Roth, 17, and Markell Thomas, 18, were arrested late last week after detectives connected the Oct. 19 shooting with similar robberies in the area. Police say the pair placed the ad.

Authorities allege that Roth and Thomas were involved in the slaying of Rene Balbuena, 41, after he drove to the 9700 block of South Gramercy Place to buy a phone for his 15-year-old son.

Police allege that Thomas jumped into the back seat of the car and pointed a gun at Balbuena's 15-year-old son. LAPD Det. Chris Barling said Balbuena got out of the car and was shot by Roth. The two suspects then fled on foot.

Detectives believe Thomas was involved in at least seven robberies in the Baldwin Hills area between Aug. 2 and Oct. 7, Barling said.

He said the two suspects were not working in connection with a gang but rather "felt this was a way to make some easy cash money."

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Balbuena's daughter, Sandra, thanked police for their efforts.

"I have no words to thank them," she said. "My dad was my best friend. He was everything to me."

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Twitter: @nicolesantacruz

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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