Man Faces Trial After Killing Spree

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Authorities filed murder charges Thursday against a 33-year-old man accused of embarking on a yearlong spree of "senseless violence" that left seven people dead across southeastern Los Angeles County.

Abelino Manriquez faces arraignment for killing a trio of men during a drug transaction, gunning down three more during unrelated arguments in several bars and fatally wounding a friend during a fight in a motel parking lot.

Manriquez has been in police custody since February, already charged with one of the bar murders. Prosecutors from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office in Norwalk added six new murder charges Thursday after police concluded a five-month investigation of the other shooting deaths.

Larry Morrison, the deputy district attorney handling the case, said detectives also consider Manriquez a possible suspect in two other killings, but he refused to elaborate.

"These are a series of apparently unrelated killings that seem to have different motives," Morrison said of the seven shooting deaths, which stretched from January, 1989, through February of this year.

Morrison called the killings "random senseless violence" and suggested that the only unifying thread to the various cases is that Manriquez appeared to be motivated by a simple "dissatisfaction with someone" that prompted him to kill.

Steve Hobson, a deputy public defender representing Manriquez, could not be reached for comment. Manriquez is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at Los Angeles County Municipal Court in South Gate.

Manriquez is suspected of dodging police during the murder spree by living in various motels--most recently in Compton--under a string of assumed names, Morrison said.

Authorities said the string of shooting deaths began when Miguel Garcia, 23, a customer at the Las Playas Bar in Paramount, was gunned down during an argument on Jan. 22, 1989.

The next killing took place a month later, just up the road at the Fort Knots Bar, a topless club in South Gate. Authorities say Manriquez was ejected from the tavern after he accosted a dancer. He is suspected of getting a handgun, then returning and killing the doorman, George Martinez, 22, of Maywood.

Morrison said the suspected killer was captured and arrested by Long Beach police in early 1989 on a misdemeanor weapons possession charge. But he was released before investigators determined through ballistics tests that the handgun had been used in the shooting death of Garcia in Paramount.

A murder warrant was issued for Manriquez, but police were unable to apprehend him. In the meantime, the killings continued.

On Nov. 29, 1989, Efrem Lopez Baldia, 28, was shot in the parking lot of the Ritz Motel in Lynwood. Morrison said prosecutors suspect Manriquez killed Baldia, an acquaintance, during an argument.

Jose Gutierrez, 25, of Maywood was killed Jan. 21 in the Mazatlan Bar in Compton by a man authorities believe was Manriquez.

Manriquez was arrested by police after a Feb. 22 shoot-out with three Mexican nationals during a disputed drug transaction at a Paramount residence. Solticio Martinez, 43, Juan Parra-Gomez, 21, and Everardo Rosas Cervantes, 31, were killed during the gun battle.

Police apprehended Manriquez as he sought treatment for minor gunshot wounds at a Paramount hospital.

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