Suspect Convicted Via Crime Scene Tattoo Sentenced

Gang member sentenced to 65-to-life term for 2004 slaying

A gang member linked to a 2004 Pico Rivera liquor store slaying by a tattoo on his chest that resembled the murder scene was sentenced Thursday to 65 years to life in prison.

Norwalk Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. called Anthony Garcia "a serious, serious danger to society."

"You'll have a long time to think about what you have done and how ridiculous it is," he told the 25-year-old defendant, who he noted had smirked and smiled throughout the sentencing hearing.

Garcia was convicted April 20 of first-degree murder for the Jan. 23, 2004, gang-related shooting death of 23-year-old John Juarez in front of Ed's Liquor at 6616 Rosemead Blvd., along with a count of shooting at an occupied vehicle that was struck by the gunfire. Jurors also found a gang allegation to be true.

Garcia was arrested at a La Habra home in October 2008, after sheriff's Homicide Detective Sgt. Kevin Lloyd came across a photo of Garcia's tattoo -- taken after he was arrested for driving on a suspended drivers' license -- and realized it looked like a murder scene he remembered from working at the Pico Rivera sheriff's station.

"This is completely one-of-a-kind," Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said of the tattoo, which depicts a peanut man being shot by a helicopter, with the shots fired in the same direction as those in Juarez's killing and a store with a window and Christmas lights resembling those at the scene.

Garcia's gang nickname was "Chopper" -- slang for a helicopter -- and peanut is a derogatory term for a rival gang, authorities said.

The tattoo also features "Rivera Kills" in large block letters, referring to the name of his gang.

Michelle Sotelo, the mother of the victim's daughter, said she was thankful that Garcia had gotten the tattoo.

"You were stupid enough to get the tattoo that convicted you," she told the defendant. "I'm not going to say I forgive you because I don't. It's going to take me a long time to think about forgiving you."

The victim's stepfather, Gilbert De La Rosa, called the tattoo "a very lousy attempt at art," saying that "it looks like a third-grader did it." He said he had forgiven Garcia for what he did and told him that he had been praying for him throughout the trial.

Edward Rodriguez said "there will always be a void in our lives" as a result of his nephew's death and told Garcia that he wanted him to remember that his decision had not just hurt one person.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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