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2 charged with murder in stabbing over parking space

Elizabeth Yanez was stabbed to death Oct. 17 in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet.
(Yanez family)

The two vehicles squared off in the crowded parking lot of the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, their drivers looking for a coveted spot.

The people inside jumped out and exchanged words until Daniel Crable offered to give up the place to the occupants of the Chevy sport utility vehicle that blocked his family’s way.

“I told my mom, ‘Just relax; I will handle it,’” Crable, 23, recalled.

Moments later, Crable’s mother, Elizabeth Yanez, was lying fatally wounded on the ground, bleeding from multiple stab wounds to her neck and back.

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Prosecutors charged Reggie Cervantes, 22, with murder and assault with a deadly weapon this week in connection with the attack, in which Crable was also slashed in the chest. Cervantes’ girlfriend, Brenda Rangel, 19, has also been charged with murder.

“It was a safe place in a public area — a place where I never thought anything would happen,” Crable told the Times on Friday.

Whittier Police Officer Brad White said that the swap meet was a busy venue where parking could be difficult but that police had never before seen a dispute over a space turn violent.

The killing occurred Oct. 17 around 9:30 p.m. Yanez had intended to take a quick trip to buy a few items at the swap meet in the 13900 block of Alondra Boulevard, her son said.

As the family circled the parking lot on the busy Friday night in their Hyundai Accent, they drove down a narrow one-way lane to an open space when the Chevy SUV came from the opposite direction, Crable said.

Crable said he thought the altercation was over when he offered up the space. Everyone had returned to their vehicles when Crable heard someone shout, “Get out and see what happens.”

Within seconds, a man was at the Hyundai.

“He was trying to punch out the door windows,” said Crable, who got out. “He pulls out a knife.... He is trying to stab me and I am trying to step out of the way. He slashes me in the chest. And when he goes to stab me in the head, he hits me in the face with his fist.... I turn around to run, and in that split second I lose sight of my mom and sister.”

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A Whittier police spokesman said detectives tied Cervantes and Rangel to the killing using evidence from the crime scene and the accounts of several witnesses.

Cervantes and Rangel were arrested Saturday. Cervantes has prior convictions for robbery and receiving stolen property, according to court records.

Rangel, who pleaded not guilty to murder on Tuesday, is due back in court Wednesday. Cervantes’ arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 20.

Yanez grew up in southeast L.A. County, then raised her two children while she worked in accounts at a Santa Ana construction company, her son said.

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On Friday, the victim’s daughter, Renee Crable, said her mother was a die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fan and that everyone in the house knew when she was watching a game because she yelled so loudly. Renee, 22, wore a Dodgers jersey Friday as she prepared to go to the mortuary.

Yanez’s mother remembered her only child as a woman with a boisterous laugh and a self-deprecating sense of humor. “If she thought her kids were in any sort of peril, that mother instinct would come out,” Sally Yanez said.

Sally Yanez said her daughter and grandchildren had not been to the swap meet for more than a year.

“I just keep thinking: If only they’d been held up a minute longer here,” she said in her La Mirada living room, which was filled with flowers from loved ones.

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Yanez said that after they returned from the hospital where her daughter died, the smell of her perfume lingered in the air.

richard.winton@latimes.com

hailey.branson@latimes.com


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