Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Coachella man

Man accused in 3 murders in December 2009

Indio - Prosecutors announced today they will seek the death penalty for a Coachella man accused of gunning down three people, including a 16-year-old boy.

Angel Anthony Esparza, 27, is charged in the deaths of 16-year-old Angel Luna in Coachella on Dec. 3, 2009, and of Gregorio Juarez and Pedro Garcia in Mecca on Dec. 19, 2009. A judge today also granted prosecutors' request that the two cases, which were originally charged separately, be combined and tried together, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Esparza, who is being held without bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, is due back in court Dec. 18 for a trial readiness conference.

He is charged with special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of robbery and kidnapping in Juarez's and Garcia's deaths, according to the criminal complaint.

In the Dec. 3 killing, investigators believe Angel Luna left a continuation school near Eighth Street and Orchard Avenue, which is near the Boys and Girls Club in Coachella, that afternoon. Witnesses said they had seen Luna walking with his bicycle on the sidewalk north of the club when he was approached by a man who matched Esparza's description, Riverside County Sheriff's Department Detective Kenneth Patterson wrote in a declaration in support of an arrest warrant.   

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