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SANTA PAULA : Gang Member Is Convicted in Slaying

A Santa Paula gang member was found guilty Monday of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of another Santa Paula man in July.

Danny Vasquez, 20, showed no reaction as the court clerk pronounced him guilty of murdering 20-year-old David Lovato on July 11, 1991.

Vasquez, who also was found guilty of using a knife in the attack, faces a sentence of 16 years to life in prison for the two convictions.

The verdict was delivered after a little more than two days of deliberations by jurors. Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger A. Inman had urged the jury to find Vasquez guilty of first-degree murder in the case, which he said was gang-related, while Deputy Public Defender Howard J. Asher had insisted that his client reacted out of fear when he was attacked and should be convicted of no more than manslaughter.

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According to Inman, Vasquez armed himself with a knife and went out with friends in a car looking for trouble on the night of the murder.

The stabbing occurred after Vasquez and his friends noticed Lovato walking down Santa Barbara Street with another youth.

Inman argued that Vasquez was trying to earn the respect of fellow gang members by attacking the friend of a man with whom he had fought earlier.

While Asher admitted that Vasquez killed Lovato, he insisted that the crime was the result of his client being attacked by two or three people.

Vasquez only drew his knife because he thought that he was being jumped because he is a gang member, Asher said.

Inman denied that Vasquez had been attacked and demanded that the maximum penalty be meted out.

Vasquez, who was free on bail during the trial, was remanded into custody to await sentencing, which is scheduled for July 17 before Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. in Ventura County Superior Court.


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