Pomona – Three members of the 12th Street Gang were found guilty of a series of murders and kidnappings on Thurs., Aug. 14.
According to the Pomona Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, Robert Louis Caballero, 37, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with a firearm, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, evading an officer and willful disregard. The jury deliberated for two days before their findings, along with the special circumstances of lying in wait, murder during the course of a kidnapping, and multiple murders.
Another defendant, Pete Trejo, Jr., 32, was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and the special circumstances of lying in wait, and murder during the course of a kidnapping.
A third defendant, Andrew Valenzuela, 23, was also convicted of one count of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and the special circumstances of murder during the course of a kidnapping.
The crimes began on Sept., 29, 2009, when Caballero killed Armando Vidana, a Cherryville gang member. Vidana was shot eight times and his body was left in the street in Pomona.
The Pomona Police Department further states that on Nov. 5, 2009, Caballero was at home with an 18-year old kidnapped victim, along with his cousin David Padilla, and a Lorraine Minjarez. During the visit, Caballero became suspicious of Minjarez and believed she was going to tell police that he killed Vidana. Caballero lured Minjarez to a nearby vehicle driven by his cousin, with the kidnapped victim also seated in the car. From that location they picked up the codefendant, Trejo.
During the ride, Caballero directed the driver to take them to Mt. Baldy. After they arrived, Caballero then directed Trejo to dig a grave while he strangled Minjarez. Once she was killed, Trejo buried her body and Caballero ordered the kidnapped victim to hide the evidence.
The next day, suspicious of Padilla’s loyalty to him, Caballero lured his cousin to a remote freeway overpass. Once there, he directed codefendant Valenzuela to strangle Padilla while forcing the kidnapped victim to watch. Prosecutors stated that Valenzuela strangled and beat Padilla to death with rocks.
Pomona Police homicide detectives investigated the initial homicide that occurred on Sept., 29, 2009. Caballero was eventually identified as the suspect in this homicide and a manhunt was conducted. On Nov. 7, 2009, Caballero was located and a pursuit was initiated by Pomona Police Officers. Caballero fled on foot from the pursuit vehicle in Montclair and after a lengthy search, he was located.
The investigation was continued by Pomona Police Homicide Detectives and they eventually located two additional homicide victims. One was located in Mt. Baldy on a hillside (investigated by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department). The other victim was located in Chino (investigated by the Chino Police Department).
Valenzuela was eventually charged with the indicated crimes as well. He was also located in Pomona by Pomona Police Officers after being involved in a pursuit. Trejo was also charged and he was eventually arrested after a murder warrant was issued.
Trejo and Valenzuela are scheduled to be sentenced October 3 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. They face a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The penalty phase for Caballero began on August 19.