LOCAL L.A. Now

Gang member who killed four deserves to die, prosecutor argues

A gang member convicted of fatally shooting four people -- including a 10-year-old boy riding a bicycle outside his home -- deserves to die for his crimes, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Amy Ashvanian said Charles Ray Smith was responsible for two separate deadly shootings in 2006, including one that became known as the "49th Street Massacre."

In that incident, three people were killed by two men wielding AK-47s on a quiet South Los Angeles street. Among the victims were Larry Marcial, 22; his nephew David, 10; and neighbor Luis Cervantes, 17. David's 12-year-old brother was seriously wounded in the attack.

"It was a war zone," Ashvanian said of the bloody crime scene.

Prosecutors have alleged that Smith and another gang member mistook the victims for rival gang members in a tit-for-tat feud over turf, drugs and pride. None of the victims had any connection to gangs.

After jurors deadlocked in his first trial, Smith was convicted during a second trial in 2010 but jurors could not agree on whether he should be executed. Another jury also deadlocked on the issue of Smith's punishment. A new jury is hearing testimony in a third attempt by prosecutors to obtain a death sentence for Smith.

Ashvanian described Smith as a "predator" who showed no remorse after the killings, telling one associate, "If they're old enough to shoot, they're old enough to be shot."

The prosecutor said that Smith was responsible for a March 2006 shooting in which Bani Hinojosa, 27, was killed as he was bringing home milk for his wife and children. The killing was allegedly carried out in retaliation for rival gang members shooting at a member of Smith's gang, Ashvanian said.

Hinojosa, who had no gang ties, was shot in the back.

"Bani Hinojosa didn't even get a chance to turn around to ask for mercy," Ashvanian said.

Smith occasionally rolled his eyes during the prosecutor's presentation, conferring with one of his attorneys and tapping his hand on the defense desk.

Smith's attorneys are expected to ask jurors Wednesday afternoon to spare their client's life in favor of a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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