Jaime Prieto Rocha. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department
Jaime Prieto Rocha. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department

A 42-year-old man who was charged with the attempted murder of one woman in Santa Ana and the killing of another woman, whose body was dumped in Newport Beach, pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter.

Jaime Prieto Rocha also admitted a sentencing enhancement for gang activity. A murder charge was left open, and Rocha was ordered to return to court Oct. 30 for a pretrial and sentencing hearing.

Rocha is expected to be sentenced to 16 years in prison for the manslaughter conviction, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson.

The trial of co-defendant Irvin Tellez, 27, is scheduled to begin soon, the prosecutor said. Tellez is due in court on Tuesday, when his case is expected to be assigned to a judge.

Rocha and Tellez were both accused in the Sept. 2, 2013, shooting death of 28-year-old Nancy Hammour of Santa Ana.

Rocha was driving when Tellez shot a 31-year-old woman in Santa Ana — the same day Hammour’s body was found — because she signaled an allegiance to a rival gang, Mendelson alleged.

Hammour, who was in the car with the two men, got “hysterical,” so Tellez shot her, as well, the prosecutor alleged.

Rocha took the rental car in which Hammour was killed to Mexico, where he got in an accident, prompting him to return to the U.S. to get another vehicle, Mendelson said.

When police traced a license plate to the rental car company, employees told detectives Rocha was with a car that was broken down in Oceanside, where the defendant was arrested, Mendelson said.

Hammour was a drug dealer who was indicted by a federal grand jury in a massive local, state and fedral crackdown on Mexican Mafia gangs in Orange County dubbed “Operation Smokin’ Aces.”

Her body was found under the Bay Bridge in Newport Beach on Labor Day in 2013.

— City News Service

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