PASADENA — Two Burbank gang members were found guilty in Superior Court on Tuesday of trying to shoot a Glendale man to death after they thought he belonged to a rival gang.
The men — Natividad Delossantos and Armando Martinez Jr. — sat stiffly as the clerk read the verdict Tuesday morning against a backdrop of quiet sobs from the audience.
The pair were each found guilty on two felony counts for the attempted murder of Enrique Pinela, who was shot inside the American Market on Lake Street on Sept. 21, 2007.
They were also found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon on store clerk Nubia Verdin and Pinela’s girlfriend, Margaret Campbell, who were inside the store when the shots rang out.
All counts carried the additional charge of a crime to benefit a gang.
“I think it’s a good verdict,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Kim, who prosecuted the men.
Jurors reached the verdict Monday afternoon after deliberating for nearly two days, but it was postponed until the following day.
During deliberations, Kim said jurors asked that testimony from Verdin and the first responding officer be read back to them.
Verdin testified during the trial that she was working in the market when she heard Delossantos and Martinez ask Pinela if he belonged to a Glendale gang. Pinela, who is an ex-gang member, told the pair no.
Verdin hid behind the store counter when Delossantos shot at Pinela, after which she looked up from behind the counter to find a red substance splattered on the walls. It turned out to be tomato sauce, but Pinela was still bleeding from the hand.
The first responding officer went over statements made by witnesses immediately after the shooting.
Kim said the jury’s requests indicated they were smart about the type of information they called for and that they were serious about reviewing evidence in the case.
A surveillance videotape that showed a fight between the men outside the store, and the ensuing shooting clearly showed Delossantos, he said, but Martinez’s involvement was harder to prove because he was not as visible in the footage.
Burbank and Glendale police officers worked together to identify Delossantos and Martinez as the main suspects, said Glendale Det. Sean Riley, who along with another detective were called in the night of the shooting to investigate.
The pair, he said, were targeting any man with a shaved head who might look like a rival gang member the day of the shooting.
“The communities of Glendale and Burbank will be much safer with them off the streets,” Riley said.
After the verdict was read Tuesday, Martinez’s attorney Salvador Salgado asked the judge to poll the jury. Each of the jurors confirmed they voted to convict.
“I know this was a long process,” Superior Court Judge Lisa Lenchsaid. “I know this was a difficult process.”
Delossantos and Martinez’s friends outside the courtroom said the men were treated unfairly from the start of the case because of who they were associated with.
Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced June 1; and Delossantos on June 24.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.