INDIO, Calif. - Two gang members convicted of first-degree murder in the New Year's Day 2012 shooting death of a 16-year-old boy in Desert Hot Springs each were sentenced Friday to 52 years to life in state prison.
Roland Jimenez Arcos and Josue Agustin Magallanes were found guilty Sept. 18 of gunning down Marcellino Anthony Moscozo and of a separate charge of committing a felony on behalf of a criminal street gang. The jury also found true several sentence-enhancing gun and gang
Arcos, 22, and Magallanes, 21, were acquitted on four counts of attempted murder related to several other people who were forced to seek cover from gunfire during the attack on Moscozo. Though they were minors at the time of the slaying, prosecutors charged them as adults.
The fact the men were minors at the time of the killing means they could potentially serve much less time in prison than the sentence requires. Under state law, juveniles convicted of murder must be granted parole hearings after their 40th birthdays.
Each man will also receive credit for the more than four years they've already served in county jail.
Co-defendant Erik Godina, 31, who was similarly charged, pleaded guilty last July 7 to voluntary manslaughter, admitted acting on behalf of a gang and later testified against his co-defendants.
In exchange for his plea, several charges were dropped, and Godina was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Moscozo was gunned down in the 66400 block of Fifth Street about 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day 2012.
At the trio's preliminary hearing in April 2013, 14-year-old Angel Perez testified that he, his mother and siblings and a few friends, including the victim, were walking to a 7-Eleven store to buy snacks when a boy sitting on the passenger side of a nearby vehicle said something about ``West Drive'' and ``Brown Town,'' the names of two local gangs.
The witness said that when he and a friend were in the store, ``this guy walked up to us and said, `We're going to kill you.' 'They left the store, and a truck carrying three Latino males he didn't know pulled up," the teen said. ``Someone put their leg out and said, `I'm going to shoot you. I'm going to shoot you,' '' he said.
The group ran into a nearby mobile home park and hid behind some bushes. The trio in the truck followed, and two people got out, Perez said.
``They started shooting, and I don't know what happened next,'' he said. Perez said ``a lot'' of shots were fired, but he never actually saw bullets hit Moscozo, who was dating his sister at the time.
According to police, neighbors called to report they saw someone being chased, then heard gunfire. Police arrived to find the fatally wounded teen.