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Friday, November 16, 2007

This is why 2-year-old Yelena Guzman is dead

Yelena Talk about senseless.

This is from Mark Wiebe's coverage of a preliminary hearing for the teens involved in the shooting that killed 2-year-old Yelena Guzman. The players are Luis Gonzalez, 16; Daniel Perez Jr., 17; Jose Franco Jr., 19; and Valentino Hernandez, 18. The judge ruled that Perez, the one who allegedly pulled the trigger, will be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors allege that on April 3, the four teenagers targeted the Kansas City, Kan., home of Yelena’s grandparents, where they believed a rival gang member named “Papa” lived.

Gonzalez testified that he and Perez did a dry run of the shooting earlier that day with the leader of Familia Loca, their small gang. Gonzalez identified that leader only as “Filero.” He said Filero accused Papa of shooting up his home.

When the three returned to Filero’s house a few blocks away, Gonzalez saw Franco, a “second captain” in the gang, cleaning a shotgun. Gonzalez said he and Perez felt pressure to complete the “mission,” and feared a beating if they didn’t. Perez, meanwhile, worried that he might be caught violating the terms of his probation, Gonzalez said.

The two got into a car, placing a shotgun on the back seat. The leaders remained at Filero’s home.

“We were just praying, hopefully, that we don’t hit the wrong person,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he parked in an alley behind the house. Perez grabbed the shotgun, approached the house and fired several shots.

“All I heard was bang, pause — bang, pause — bang, pause,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez testified that after Perez ran back to the car, he said, “ ‘Man, man, I can’t believe we just did that.’ He just said, ‘I hope I didn’t hit anybody.’ ”

When the two returned to Filero’s house, they heard sirens. Filero and Franco told them they had done well.

--- Sara Shepherd

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