A 25-year-old man pleaded guilty Friday for his part in the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old man outside an apartment complex in Santa Ana nearly five years ago.
Felix Martinez Vargas of Santa Ana pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Vargas, who has been in custody since Dec. 1, 2017, was charged in December of that year with murder along with a sentencing enhancement for being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury.
Co-defendant Alexis Ascencion, 23, of Santa Ana, is awaiting retrial on charges of murder with a special-circumstance allegation of gang activity and a sentencing enhancement for discharging a gun causing death.
Both men were charged in connection with the killing of 36-year-old Mariano Labra Ramos of Santa Ana.
Vargas testified in Ascencion’s trial in July. A mistrial was declared when jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt.
The defendants — which included two boys, ages 15 and 16 — drove into rival gang territory when they saw two men in front of an apartment complex between 1913 and 1909 W. Myrtle St., according to a trial brief from prosecutors in Ascencion’s case. Ascencion asked Vargas, the driver, to stop before Ascencion jumped out and opened fire on the victim, wounding him in the leg with two shots, prosecutors said.
A main artery was struck and Ramos, who had no gang ties, bled to death, prosecutors said.
Ascencion ran back to the car and they fled the area, prosecutors said.
Police found the vehicle involved in the shooting just before 9 p.m. that night and stopped the driver.