The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of two men convicted of a double-murder in the San Fernando Valley shortly after a botched drug deal.
Guillermo Teran — who is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole — was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the June 2, 2015, shooting deaths of Christian Barrera-Rivera, 23, and Sonny Pena, 28.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery, murder by means of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle and multiple murders.
Co-defendant Tomas Ramos Ochoa was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to 32 years to life in state prison.
In a ruling in May, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in the defendants’ trial.
The appellate court panel noted in its 29-page ruling that the evidence showed that the two victims agreed to sell Teran about two pounds of methamphetamine, and that Teran and Ochoa drove together to Woodland Hills to meet the two.
“Ochoa got out of Teran’s Mustang and handed Barrera-Rivera $2,400, despite knowing the victims agreed to sell the meth for $5,400. Immediately after Barrera-Rivera started counting the money, Teran shot at the victims three or four times from close range. Pena drove away,” the panel found.
“Without hesitation, Ochoa got inside Teran’s Mustang and they took off after the victims. During the ensuing chase, Ochoa noticed Pena throw the drugs onto the street, but he did not tell Teran to stop. Teran eventually caught up to the victims and fired one or two shots at them before his gun jammed.”
Ochoa subsequently got out of the vehicle, with witnesses reporting that he repeatedly struck Pena and Barrera-Rivera, who did not fight back, according to the ruling.
Ochoa grabbed a handful of cash from the victims’ car and then ran back to the Mustang, according to the justices, who found that Ochoa’s claim that he believed he was participating in a mere drug transaction “strains credulity.”
The victims were found near Corbin Avenue and Calvert Street, according to prosecutors.
Pena was pronounced dead at the scene, and Barrera-Rivera died at a nearby hospital.
Teran was arrested a day after the shooting, and Ochoa was taken into custody nearly a week later.