Jury Convicts 2 Teen-Agers in '89 Killing of Station Manager

Two teen-agers who used their friendship with the manager of a Redondo Beach gas station to get at the cash register and then shot him dead were convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and robbery.

Richard Ponton, who was 17 at the time of the June, 1989, shooting, and Rickey Gary, who was 18, were convicted by a Torrance Superior Court jury that deliberated five hours before returning a verdict at the end of a three-week trial.

In addition to the murder and robbery charges, jurors also convicted the pair of special circumstances that require Judge John Shook to sentence them to life in prison without possibility of parole. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against either of them.

Formal sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 31.

Witnesses testified that Ponton and Gary plotted to support their crack cocaine habits by stealing the weekend gas receipts at the Arco station at Artesia Boulevard and Rindge Lane and then killed the station manager, Jesus (Chewy) Chavez, to prevent him from identifying them.

During the trial, two other teen-agers who helped plan the robbery but did not participate in the shooting testified against Ponton and Gary.

Ponton, a former student at Redondo Union High School, was arrested at Pacific Shores Continuation High School in Manhattan Beach after the shooting.

Gary, who was convicted of firing the shots that killed Chavez, lived in Compton.

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