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Trial of Defendant in Slaying of Three in Garage Goes to Jury

A jury will begin deliberations today in the trial of Hector Ayala, 36, charged with taking part in the killing of three men in a Southeast San Diego garage during a drug-related shooting in 1985.

The jury heard final arguments in the trial Friday. Hector Ayala’s brother, Ronaldo Ayala, 37, was convicted last year in the same killings and later sentenced to death.

If the jury finds that Hector Ayala is guilty of first-degree murders with special circumstances, because there were multiple victims, a penalty-phase of the trial will be held later to determine whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without possibility of parole.

The killings took place April 26, 1985, in a radiator shop on South 43rd Street. The three victims were tied, had their mouths covered with duct tape, and then shot in the head.

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Slain were Ernesto (Cha Cho) Mendez Dominguez, 30, his brother-in-law, Marco Zamora-Villa, 31, and Jose (Cucuy) Luis Rositas, 24.

A fourth victim, Pedro Castillo, 42, survived and testified that the Ayala brothers were the gunmen. Costillo was shot in the back.

Castillo has testified that heroin was being sold out of the garage by some of the victims and admitted he had not always been truthful with the police about that aspect of the killings.

A third defendant in the killings, Jose Moreno, 50, is to be tried following Hector Ayala’s trial.

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