Jailhouse Tape Used in Trial

Times Staff Writer

An El Rio gang member told a jailhouse informant that he fatally shot a high school football player three years ago because he wanted to rob him, according to court testimony.

“It was like a come-up went bad,” Marcus Moralez told the informant, explaining that “come-up” is a slang term for a robbery.

Moralez, a 22-year-old gang member, made the statement during an April 2001 conversation with a jail inmate who was secretly wearing a recording device and working with homicide detectives to solve the slaying of 17-year-old Frank Miramontez of El Rio.

A portion of the recording was played for jurors Thursday during Moralez’s murder trial.


During the conversation, the informant asks Moralez if he and other gang members were trying to rob Miramontez, and the defendant replies, “Something like that.”

Prosecutors offered the tape as evidence that Moralez produced a concealed handgun and shot Miramontez in the back of the head as the victim drove the defendant and two teenage gang members around in his car.

Moralez is charged with murder, street terrorism and carrying a loaded firearm in connection with the fatal shooting, which took place two days before Christmas in 1999.

He has pleaded not guilty and is expected to testify in his defense next week.