Two gang members were sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering a woman who had testified in another gang member's murder trial.
Rodney Perez, 32, and Ramiro Juan Alvarez, 28, were convicted earlier this year of first-degree murder for the May 11, 2009, shooting death of Roberta Romero.
The 24-year-old victim was driven from West Covina to Pomona and shot three times -- once each in the head, chest and back -- slightly over a year after testifying as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of Ralph Flores, who belonged to the same gang as Perez and Alvarez and who was sentenced to death in September 2008 after being convicted of four murders.
The victim's mother, Barbara Garcia, said she was in court to "let you know how you destroyed our lives by taking Roberta's life."
She noted that her daughter's son "is growing up without his mother" and "has many questions as to why this happened to his mother."
"I can't even begin to tell you the pain you have placed in my heart and how angry I am because you took my daughter's life," she said, noting that she spent Wednesday, which would have been her daughter's 28th birthday, at the cemetery. "No parent should have to bury their children," she said.
Prosecutors opted not to seek the death penalty against Perez and Alvarez after two juries deadlocked this year on whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Oct. 25, jurors announced that they were split 10-2 in favor of life in prison without the possibility of parole for Perez and 11-1 in favor of a life prison term for Alvarez.
In May, the first jury to hear the case against the two deadlocked 8-4 in favor of a death sentence for Perez and 8-4 in favor of life behind bars for Alvarez. That panel had convicted the two men of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and murder to further the activities of a criminal street gang.
The two were sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen.