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Gang member pleads not guilty in Panorama City slayings

Gang member pleads not guilty in the slayings of two young men outside a Panorama City convenience store

A Langdon Street gang member pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and attempted murder charges stemming from the slaying of two young men last month outside a Panorama City convenience store.

Angel Santana, 29, entered his plea in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances and one count of attempted murder.

The special circumstances allegation gives prosecutors the option of seeking the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. How to proceed has not been decided, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

Santana, known as "Lil Angel," is accused of fatally shooting Miles Deshawn, 19, and Maron States, 22, on July 17 in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store at Sepulveda and Roscoe boulevards. A 50-year-old man also was shot but survived.

The felony complaint further alleges that a handgun was used in the crime and that the slayings were committed for the benefit of a street gang -- factors that could increase Santana's sentence if he is convicted.

According to the complaint, Santana has two convictions in 2005 for carjacking and robbery.

A preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough cause to proceed with the prosecution is scheduled for Aug. 22. Santana is being held on $1-million bail, authorities said.

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