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Defense Rests in Trial of Man Accused in Teen's Murder

Fernando Becerra, 26, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted in the May 31, 2010, slaying of Ruben Alfaro.

The Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.  Patch file photo.
The Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. Patch file photo.

The defense rested Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of instigating and taking part in a drive-by shooting that left a 14-year-old Hemet boy dead.

Fernando Becerra, 26, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted in the May 31, 2010, slaying of Ruben Alfaro.

Becerra is charged with first-degree murder, plus special circumstance allegations of firing a gun from a moving vehicle and committing a murder for the benefit of a street gang.

The prosecution rested its case Monday, and defense attorney Robert Gazley called several witnesses this morning before resting his case, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Albert Wojcik sent jurors home. Closing arguments are set for Wednesday morning.

According to the District Attorney's Office, a dispute between the defendant and a group of youths and young adults gathered at the Depot Deli on Alessandro Street precipitated the violence that culminated in Ruben being shot to death.

Becerra, a member of the Trece street gang, allegedly traded insults with members of the group, several of whom belonged to a rival gang.

One of the rivals -- not Ruben -- took a swing at Becerra, who went to enlist the support of his older sibling, then-24-year-old Michael Wayne Delacruz, said Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky.

Delacruz, Becerra and four others piled into a Ford Explorer and drove to a residence at 130 Alessandro St., where they suspected the rivals were gathered, according to Strunsky.

He said Delacruz armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun and took a position in the rear of the Explorer.

When the defendants reached the house around 1 a.m., Ruben and several of his friends were socializing outside, according to testimony from Delacruz's trial. His girlfriend, Maria Lemus, stopped the vehicle, and Delacruz flung open the door and fired the shotgun, striking Ruben in the abdomen.

Strunsky said scatter shot ripped through the youth, killing him on the spot. One of Ruben's associates was also armed with a shotgun and fired into the Explorer, striking Delacruz underneath his right arm as the vehicle sped away.

Based on witnesses' statements and other evidence collected at the scene, Delacruz was arrested by Hemet police less than a week later. He was convicted of murder in February 2013 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Lemus pleaded guilty last year to voluntary manslaughter and using a gun during a felony. She's expected to be sentenced in June to 15 years in prison.

Becerra is being held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.


– City News Service.

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