Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A 25-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for gunning down another man in Santa Ana for no apparent reason.

Rene Mojarra of Santa Ana was convicted March 14 of murder with special circumstances of gang activity. He was also convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements found true for firing a gun causing death and gang activity.

Mojarra killed 20-year-old Mario Hernandez Jr. about 6:30 p.m., March 12, 2012, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter.

Co-defendant Kevin Ceja pleaded guilty Jan. 17, 2014, to voluntary manslaughter and participating in a gang. He was sentenced to three years in prison on March 17 of this year, but he was released right away because he had double that time in custody awaiting trial, Porter said.

Hernandez was standing near a driveway in an underground parking garage when Mojarra spotted him and opened fire, Porter said.

“There’s no indication he knows him or recognizes him,” Porter said.

The defendant just figured Hernandez was a rival gang member and shot, Porter said.

Hernandez had no known gang ties, Porter said.

“He was a good kid who grew up in a tough neighborhood and one day he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Porter said.

Hernandez had signed up for classes and was planning to resume his schooling at the time of his murder, Porter said.

A gang-related murder a month before likely stoked the ongoing battle between Mojarra’s gang and another gang in the area, Porter said.

–City News Service

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