Suspect In Killing of Officer in Cypress Park Arraigned

By City News Service

One of six reputed Avenues gang members charged with killing a 27-year-old sheriff’s deputy was arraigned Monday following his extradition from Mexico.

Armando “Chivo” Albarran, 30, is charged with one count each of conspiracy and murder for the Aug. 2, 2008, killing of Deputy Juan Abel Escalante in Cypress Park. The murder charge includes the special-circumstance allegation that the killing was carried out to benefit a criminal street gang, Deputy District Attorney Phillip Stirling said.

Albarran was extradited Dec. 14 and was being held without bail.

Escalante was getting ready to leave for his morning shift at the Men’s Central Jail when he was fatally shot outside his parents’ home in the 3400 block of Thorpe Avenue in Cypress Park. Escalante, a father of three, had been a sheriff’s deputy for two and a half years and guarded dangerous prisoners, including members of the Mexican Mafia.

His family was living in his parents’ house in a gang-infested neighborhood in Cypress Park and planning to buy a home in Pomona when he was shot, authorities said.

His funeral, held at the downtown Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was attended by hundreds of uniformed officers, including Sheriff Lee Baca, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then-Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton.

Prosecutors said Albarran was sitting in the back seat of a car with others charged in the case when the shooting occurred.

Five other people have been charged, and three have struck plea deals with prosecutors. Carlos Javier Velasquez, aka “Stoney,” pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Arnoldo Pineda, 31, who was forced at gunpoint to drive the car, and Guillermo Hernandez, aka “Flea,” 24, who was also sitting in the back seat of the car, each pleaded no contest to one count of voluntary manslaughter.

Hernandez was sentenced to 21 years in state prison and Pineda is awaiting sentencing, Stirling said. A fifth defendant, Jose Renteria, 21, is awaiting trial in February. A sixth man charged, Roberto Salazar, 26, remains a fugitive.

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December 20, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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