A 21-year-old man was convicted Wednesday of murder for shooting a fellow Santa Ana gang member in the face over a dispute about either a stolen bike or a “girl,” according to a prosecutor.
Daniel Alvarez, who eluded authorities for more than a year until he bragged about the killing to a cousin who turned him in, according to Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter.
Alvarez was convicted of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a probationer, Jurors also found true a sentencing enhancement for the use of a firearm in the killing, making Alvarez eligible for 50 years to life in prison.
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 13.
Alvarez gunned down 18-year-old Bruno Ugalde about 1:20 a.m. on May 8, 2012, at 502 E. Pine St., Porter said.
Although Ugalde was a member of the gang, he’d had no significant brushes with the law, Porter said.
“It was tragic. For all intents and purposes, he was a good kid who had no criminal background,” Porter said.
The victim was so well-liked that members of the gang cooperated with investigators in the case initially, which is unusual, Porter said.
“There were two versions of what happened. The most likely one was the defendant wanted to use the victim’s bicycle and the victim said no,” Porter said. “So he went ahead and took it anyway. Later on, they met up and the victim had friends with him to get his bike back.”
That account came from the fellow gang members who testified in the trial, Porter said.
A cousin of Alvarez’s, however, said the defendant told him the conflict was over “a girl the victim was seeing. It was his ex-girlfriend and it got him mad,” Porter said.
Alvarez fled to Mexico after the shooting. But at some point while hiding out, he bragged about the killing to his cousin and showed him a picture of the victim on the gang’s Facebook page, Porter said.
“He said, ‘That’s the guy I shot and killed,”‘ Porter said.
The cousin notified authorities and the defendant was sent back to the United States in August 2013, Porter said.
The prosecutor credited Santa Ana detectives Roland Andrade and clint Achzigger for cracking the case.
“We didn’t have an eyewitness or a murder weapon — we had a lot of circumstantial evidence to convict him,” Porter said. “But they followed up every lead.”
— Wire reports
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: