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Gang Member Convicted in East L.A. Double-Murder

A gang member was convicted Dec. 6 of murdering two men in a gang-related shooting more than four years ago in East Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about 1 1/2 hours before finding Christopher Lee Savala, a 33-year-old member of a Bell gang, guilty of first-degree murder in the March 31, 2008, shooting deaths of Benjamin Renteria and Diego Vargas, according to Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations that there were multiple murders and murder to further the activities of a criminal street gang, along with gang and gun use allegations, the prosecutor said.

Savala is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, with sentencing set Jan. 11. The District Attorney’s Office had decided earlier not to seek the death penalty.