The Los Angeles County district attorney's office will seek the death penalty against the 20-year-old gang member charged with killing 17-year-old high school football star Jamiel Shaw II.
Shaw was several doors from his Arlington Heights home on March 2, 2008, when two men in a car pulled up next to him, asked him if he belonged to a gang and then shot him when he apparently didn't answer, authorities say.
Days later, police arrested the suspected trigger man, Pedro Espinoza, an 18th Street gang member. Espinoza is awaiting trial after being charged with murder with special circumstances in the killing.
Espinoza, an illegal immigrant, had been released from the Los Angeles County jail on a gun-related charge the day before Shaw was killed.
The district attorney's office said a committee made up of about a dozen prosecutors determined that the death penalty was appropriate in the case after weighing aggravating circumstances against those that might lessen the charges.
The killing has sparked calls from the community to stop gang violence and set off a debate about a Los Angeles Police Department policy that prohibits officers from stopping or questioning people solely about their immigration status.
Shaw's parents backed a failed petition drive aimed at getting a law passed that would allow police to arrest illegal-immigrant gang members solely for being in the country illegally and hand them over to federal authorities.