Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Murder in Two Cases


A gang member avoided a potential death sentence in pleading guilty Thursday to the 2008 murder of a man who was holding a toddler when he was gunned down in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles and the killing of a cellmate three years later.

Jose Angel Gomez, 27, will be sentenced Nov. 18 to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.

Gomez pleaded guilty to the Feb. 21, 2008, killing of Marco Salas, who was carrying his 2-year-old step-granddaughter when he was killed near Aragon Avenue Elementary School, along with the strangulation of Jonathan Najera in the Men’s Central Jail sometime between Feb. 28 and March 1, 2011.

Gomez also admitted the special circumstance allegation that the killings were carried out while he was an active participant in a criminal street gang, and to further the activities of the gang.

He had been awaiting trial next month in connection with Salas’ killing, along with the death of Daniel Leon, a gang member who was fatally wounded by police during a shootout soon after Salas’ shooting. The murder charge involving Leon’s death is expected to be dismissed as a result of his plea.

Gomez had been awaiting trial separately in connection with the jail killing, in which several other inmates are also charged.

One of Gomez’s attorneys, Christopher Chaney, called it a “good settlement” and the “right disposition.”

Co-defendant Rafael Carrillo was convicted in December 2013 of first-degree murder for Salas’ killing, but was acquitted of murder involving Leon’s death.

In January, a state appellate court panel rejected Carrillo’s contention that there were errors in his trial, and the California Supreme Court refused in April to review the case against him.

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