Man Guilty in Gang Slaying of Bystander

A 20-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court for his part in a gang shootout that left a 15-year-old bystander dead.

Loi Van Nguyen of Westminster was the driver of a car that engaged in a shootout with rival gang members outside an Orange church on Aug. 6, 1993. Lozaro Omar Acosta Jr., a Century High School sophomore and church choir member, was killed by an errant bullet while sitting nearby in his parents' car.

Nguyen's lawyer, Thomas Avdeef, said his client could receive life imprisonment when he appears in court for sentencing on Nov. 4.

Nguyen is the third person to be convicted by juries of murder stemming from the shootout between warring factions of the local street gang. Three other members of the gang involved in the shooting have pleaded guilty, and another suspect is awaiting trial.

Avdeef called the first-degree murder conviction harsh because Nguyen never held or shot a gun during the fight. Avdeef said he believes the jury was angered by the criminal history of the gang to which Nguyen belonged and did not look separately at his role in the slaying.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Douglas Woodsmall said he believed the jury acted properly. "When someone in a gang commits a crime and is supported in that crime by his fellow gang members, they can all be found guilty," he said.

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