A state appeals court panel Friday upheld a gang member’s conviction for the 2013 shooting deaths of two men less than two weeks apartment in Pomona.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the trial court erred in allowing jurors to hear Israel Magana’s statements to a jailhouse informant that he had committed eight murders in 2013.
“The counts of conviction were amply supported even without Magana’s statements about other murders,” the panel found in a 21-page ruling.
Magana — whom Pomona police detectives considered to be the “chief enforcer” for a local street gang at the time — was convicted in December 2016 of first-degree murder for the Oct. 23, 2013, slaying of Covan Brady and the Nov. 2, 2013, killing of Matthew Martin, along with possession of a firearm by a felon.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, as well as gang and gun allegations.
The jury acquitted Magana of the Oct. 23, 2013, slaying of Charles Cooper, who was found dead in a yard in Pomona, along with a count of attempted murder.
The appellate court justices noted that Magana’s acquittal on those counts “shows that the jury was clearly able to convict on facts in evidence rather than propensity,” and that there was “strong evidence” to link him to the killings for which he was convicted.
Magana is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole.
Co-defendant Edward Osorio — who is serving a potential life prison term — was convicted of first-degree murder for Martin’s killing.
Osorio shot the 40-year-old man after Magana walked up to the victim’s vehicle and opened the car door. Martin was killed in the carport of the apartment complex where Magana lived with his mother, and DNA consistent with Magana’s was on the interior side door handle of Martin’s SUV, according to the appellate court panel’s opinion.