A gang member convicted of murdering two men in a gang-related shooting in East Los Angeles was sentenced Jan. 11 to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen also tacked on another 50 years to life in prison for Christopher Lee Savala, a 33-year-old member of a gang in Bell, who was found guilty Dec. 6 of first-degree murder for the March 31, 2008, shooting deaths of Benjamin Renteria and Diego Vargas.
Savala shot the two men after confronting them about where they were from when they came to pick up Vargas’ brother-in-law in neutral territory in the 1200 block of South Herbert Avenue, according to Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim.
Savala was arrested later that evening by deputies from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Norwalk station. He has remained jailed since then.
Along with the murder charges, jurors 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 District Attorney’s Office had decided before the trial not to seek the death penalty against Savala.