Gang Member Gets Life Without Parole for Fatal Santa Ana Shooting

Gang Member Gets Life Without Parole for Fatal Santa Ana Shooting

A Santa Ana Police Department vehicle in Santa Ana, Calif., on March 11, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

4/23/2024

Updated: 4/23/2024

0

SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 25-year-old man was sentenced April 22 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the gang-related fatal shooting of a man outside an apartment complex in Santa Ana six years ago.
Alexis Ascencion of Santa Ana was convicted Feb. 15 of first-degree murder and participating in gang activity, with special circumstances of gang activity and sentencing enhancements for discharge of a gun causing death.
Co-defendant Felix Martinez Vargas of Santa Ana pleaded guilty Sept. 2, 2022, to voluntary manslaughter and is still awaiting sentencing.
Both men were charged in connection with the killing of 36-year-old Mariano Labra Ramos of Santa Ana on Dec. 1, 2017. Authorities said Mr. Ascencion mistakenly thought Mr. Ramos was a rival gang member.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King tacked on an additional 25 years to life in prison to the life without parole punishment for Mr. Ascencion. He declined a request from Mr. Ascencion’s attorney to waive a prior strike to lessen the punishment.
“It was a payback,” Judge King said of the attack.
The judge said Mr. Ascencion drove into rival gang territory and randomly selected a victim.
“He picked someone out with no prior association [to the gang],” Judge King said. “He shot him intentionally and as a result that person died.”
“There was just no justification” for the killing, Judge King said, adding that it “was an aggravated case.”
The judge said the shooting was done “to show strength of his gang” and was a “senseless act of violence.”
Mr. Ramos “was going out to get salt to make dinner for his wife, who was blind,” Judge King said.
The couple had a “healthy marriage” and he was the main provider, the judge said.
The judge scheduled a hearing for June 28 to consider if he has the authority to order the defendant to provide restitution out of his earnings as an inmate.
Mr. Vargas testified in Mr. Ascencion’s first trial in July of 2022. A mistrial was declared when jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of guilt.
The defendants—also including two boys, ages 15 and 16—drove into rival gang territory when they saw two men in front of an apartment complex between 1913 and 1909 W. Myrtle St., according to a trial brief from prosecutors in Mr. Ascencion’s case. Mr. Ascencion asked Mr. Vargas, the driver, to stop before Mr. Ascencion jumped out and opened fire on the victim, wounding him in the leg with two shots, prosecutors said.
A main artery was struck and Mr. Ramos, who had no gang ties, bled to death, prosecutors said.
Mr. Ascencion ran back to the car and they fled the area.
Police found the vehicle involved in the shooting just before 9 p.m. that night and stopped the driver.
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