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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SANTA ANA

The reputed leader of an Orange County gang was convicted of murder Thursday in the August 2003 shooting death of a 13-year-old boy who was mistakenly fingered as a rival gang member.

Jason Alejandro Aguirre, 33, of Garden Grove could face the death penalty. Four other defendants, three of whom were juveniles but charged as adults, have either pleaded guilty to lesser crimes or await trial in Orange County Superior Court.

Prosecutors say the victim, Minh Tran, and four family members were eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Westminster that was a hangout for members of Aguirre’s gang, one of whom thought the family members belonged to a rival gang. The family is not affiliated with a gang, authorities said.

As they drove away from the restaurant, Tran’s family was followed by the gang members, who called Aguirre from a mobile phone. The victims tried to get away by quickly pulling into a dark cul-de-sac and turning off the car’s engine and lights.

But the gang members blocked their exit. Prosecutors said that when Aguirre arrived, he walked up and fired several shots into the victims’ car. Tran was killed and his brother and cousin were wounded.

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Aguirre was arrested seven months later in Tempe, Ariz., authorities said.

-- Mike Anton


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