Indio - The defense rested today in the penalty phase of the trial of a Desert Hot Springs gang member convicted of killing a U.S. Marine and a teenager.
Emilio Manuel Avalos, 35, was convicted in the Dec. 19, 2001, slaying of 20-year-old Marine Cpl. Henry Lozano and the Dec. 21, 1994, shooting death of 17-year-old Jahi Collins.
Avalos was also convicted of the attempted murder of Collins' friend, Bobby Wilson, who was left paralyzed in the 1994 gunfire at Wardman Park in
Desert Hot Springs.
Avalos was convicted last month. In the penalty phase, jurors are hearing evidence to determine whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Closing arguments are set for tomorrow morning.
A judge consolidated the Lozano and Collins murder cases in 2007. The law allows combining separate crimes when they're the same type or have similar
attributes, according to John Hall, a public information officer with the
Riverside County District Attorney's office, who said both shootings showed a
distinctive method of operation and evidence pointing to Avalos.