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Ralph Steven Flores - California Death Row
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Thread: Ralph Steven Flores - California Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Ralph Steven Flores - California Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on September 8, 2008 for his role in four slayings that occurred during a five-year span between 1999 and 2004. Ralph Steven Flores, 26, who has "AZUSA" tattooed on his upper lip, has been under way since last month. In separate incidents he is accused of killing two women, one over money and another because he believed her to be a snitch. Among the alleged victims was Fenise Luna, 28. The Azusa resident was found beaten and strangled to death in a parked SUV in 2004, officials said. Among the alleged victims was Fenise Luna, 28. The Azusa resident was found beaten and strangled to death in a parked SUV in 2004, officials said. The other victims were Claudia Chenet and Christopher Lynch.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    September 8, 2008

    A Southern California gang member convicted of four murders has been sentenced to death.

    A Los Angeles Superior Court judge sentenced 26-year-old Ralph Steven Flores of Azusa on Monday.

    Judge Kathleen Kennedy imposed three death sentences for three murders between 2002 and 2004, and a sentence of life without parole for the racially motivated 1999 murder of Christopher Lynch, a black teenager Flores killed when he was 17.

    Because Flores was a minor, he was not eligible for the death penalty for that murder.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    August 16, 2008

    Death in Pomona: Inside a gang killing

    During the ride that ended in her death in Pomona, Roberta Romero tried to reason with the two gang members who forced her into their car.

    She apologized and said she'd made a mistake when she testified against Ralph Flores, a high-ranking Azusa 13 gang member who was convicted of four murders two years ago and sentenced to death.

    Romero, a one-time associate of the gang, said she wasn't the only person from her Azusa neighborhood who testified against Flores, nicknamed "Swifty," an enforcer for the gang who police described as the right-hand man of one of the group's leaders.

    Romero's captors tried to reassure her.

    "They just said they are going to take her to talk to someone," said an eyewitness to Romero's killing who was in the car and later testified in court.

    When the group reached Bellevue Avenue and Glenpark Street in Pomona, Rodney Perez parked the car. The L-shaped intersection has no street lights, and it was dark when the group arrived at about 5 a.m. on May 11, 2009.

    Romero lit a cigarette. Before she could finish it, Perez opened his door, walked around the car and opened Romero's door.

    Perez told Romero to get out of the car. When she refused, Perez grabbed her arm and pulled her out, according to the eyewitness, one of Romero's relatives.

    They walked behind the car, and the other alleged gang member, Ramiro Alvarez, got out of the car and followed them.

    Romero knelt in the road and pleaded for her life.

    Mark Pineda, who lives down the street, said another neighbor overheard Perez and Romero's conversation.

    Romero was apologizing and Perez sounded agitated. The neighbor who overheard the conversation at first thought it was a lovers' quarrel, said Pineda.

    "She kept pleading," Pineda said. "You could hear her pleading."

    The eyewitness, whose identity is being withheld for fear of gang retaliation, said she saw Perez shoot Romero twice with a handgun.

    When police arrived, Romero, 24, was dead.

    She had fallen to her side, with her body still in a kneeling position. Pineda said he saw a bullet wound just above Romero's left eyebrow.

    Violence against 'rats'

    Street gangs such as Azusa 13 often retaliate violently against people they view as "rats" for cooperating with law enforcement - particularly if the informants are members or associates of the gang, according to police and prosecutors.

    "If you're a gang member of if you're just anybody, being a rat or snitch on a gang is one of those things you don't do," said Deputy District Attorney Ian Phan, who prosecuted Flores and is now prosecuting Romero's accused killers.

    "And if they believe you've snitched on somebody or that you're ratted out on somebody, you pay the ultimate price."

    Romero, an Azusa native, was an associate of Azusa 13 and had very strong ties to the gang, Azusa police Lt. Michael Bertelsen testified at a May preliminary hearing in Romero's killing.

    Bertelsen identified Flores, 28, as a "respected member of the gang." His mentor was the gang's "key holder" - the person who runs the gang in the neighborhood, police said.

    Flores and the key holder, Santiago Rios, known as "Chico," have matching "Azusa" tattoos above their upper lips, authorities said.

    "I've been told that `Swifty' was `Chico's' right-hand man," Bertelsen said. "He would go out and commit crimes on his behalf at his direction."

    In retaliating against gang members or associates labeled as rats, gangs often are aided by the easy access they have to their victims in tight-knit communities, Bertelsen said.

    "They frequently kill people that they know," he said. "It can be easier to do it. You know somebody, you know who their family is, you can contact them."

    Fenise Luna killing

    The killing that Romero witnessed and later testified to occurred on Dec. 29, 2004, in Azusa.

    Anthony Almarez, a member of the Azusa 13 gang, faced criminal charges, and Flores and other gang members decided they would try to coerce a gang associate named Fenise Luna to sign over the pink slip to her car to raise money to pay for a lawyer.

    Romero was with a group of gang members - including Flores - on the night Luna, 28, was tortured and killed after she refused to sign over the title to her 1999 Ford Expedition.

    According to an appellate court summary of Luna's killing, Luna met with her drug dealer, Flores, and a third man, Steven Zamora, hoping to buy $40 worth of methamphetamine.

    While meeting with the three men in Zamora's garage on Duell Street near Azusa High School, Zamora and Flores allegedly attacked her.

    After Luna was dead, the men allegedly hog-tied her arms and legs behind her back and wrapped her body in a white sheet.

    Romero testified that she saw Flores and Zamora load Luna's body into the car. She said she followed the men when they parked Luna's car a half-mile away and gave them a ride home.

    Romero's testimony helped convict Flores and Zamora. Flores was sentenced to death, and Zamora received a prison sentence of 85 years to life, Phan said.

    In court, Romero said she cooperated with detectives after they told her she could be charged as an accessory to Luna's killing.

    Phan, who prosecuted Flores and is now prosecuting Romero's alleged killers, believes part of her motivation for cooperating was that she felt it was the right thing to do.

    "Personally, I think that she's a good person, and she saw what she saw, and she came forward and testified to the truth."

    The actions of another witness in Flores' case underscore the gang's ability to intimidate witnesses.

    The witness immediately following Romero at Flores' preliminary hearing was a one-time gang associate who had told police about a conversation with Zamora who had detailed Luna's killing, according to a transcript of the hearing.

    But when the man took the witness stand, his response to every question was the same.

    He said he couldn't remember talking to Zamora or to a detective. Every response was, "No."

    Romero tracked down

    After Romero cooperated with authorities in Flores' case, she was relocated as part of a witness-protection program, according to Phan and police.

    Phan said that in the program, witnesses are relocated to an apartment outside their former neighborhoods and are provided with money for first and last month's rent and expenses.

    Romero's alleged killers were able to find her through her family. One of her relatives was dating Ramiro Alvarez at the time of Romero's death.

    The following account of Romero's death comes from her relative's testimony in a May preliminary hearing. Her identity is being withheld for fear of retaliation.

    The morning of the killing, Alvarez, Perez and Romero's relative were in West Covina drinking alcohol. Perez asked to borrow the woman's cell phone to contact Romero.

    He sent Romero a text message at 4:14 a.m. about her 7-year-old son, who was then asleep at her family member's home, according to a court declaration written by Phan.

    Perez told Romero that her son - who wasn't actually sick - needed to be taken to a hospital. Romero agreed to be picked up at a friend's house in West Covina to go the hospital with her son.

    Perez put the boy in the front passenger seat of his car. Alvarez and Romero's relative sat in the back seat as the group left to pick up Romero.

    When they arrived, Romero asked her relative what was wrong with her son. After her relative told her nothing was wrong with her son, Perez told her to get in the car.

    "Rodney told her that if she wanted to see her baby, she needed to go with him," the relative testified at the preliminary hearing.

    Romero got in the car and sat in the back seat with Alvarez and her relative. Her son was still asleep in the front seat.

    Perez drove back to the relative's house and took the boy out of the car. As he walked toward the house carrying the child, Romero's relative walked alongside him.

    When the group resumed driving, Romero began pleading with Perez and Alvarez.

    The group proceeded to the intersection in Pomona where Romero was killed. Before Perez shot Romero, among the woman's final pleas were that she not be killed in front of her relative.

    When Perez shot Romero, her family member ran from the car toward Romero. Perez and Alvarez called her back, and she complied. As the group sped south on Bellevue, Romero's relative was inconsolable. Alvarez, who was crying, apologized to her.

    Alvarez told Perez that what they'd done was wrong. Perez responded, according to the woman, by alluding to Flores' death sentence.

    "He said he knows, but that the homie's going to die so they have to do it," the woman said.

    Alvarez's cousin later told a police officer that Alvarez was fidgety and pacing back and forth when he arrived and later began packing a duffel bag with clothing.

    Alvarez's cousin, Alejandro Flores, asked him if he'd done something wrong. He ignored him, according to testimony from Pomona police Officer Jamie Martinez.

    "Based on the brother's nervous action this led Alejandro to ask him just straight out, `Did you kill someone?"' the officer said.

    "Don't worry about it," Alvarez responded, according to the officer. "I just got to get out of here."

    Later, Alvarez and Perez were arrested by police.

    Romero's family made a memorial at the intersection of Bellevue and Glenpark, with candles and pictures of her.

    Pineda, the man who lives nearby, recalled family members grieving at the site.

    "It was just so heartbreaking to see," he said.

    Possible death penalty

    Perez and Alvarez are eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors haven't decided whether to pursue it.

    Phan said a decision is likely to be made prior to Perez and Alvarez's next court date on Oct. 18.

    Romero's killing is not the first time Perez, 30, has been implicated in a gang shooting.

    An Azusa police lieutenant testified in the May preliminary hearing that Perez served a prison sentence for the 2000 shooting in Azusa of a black preacher - a stranger to the gang who was using a pay phone.

    The shooting was part of a pattern of violence by Azusa 13 gang members against black people in Azusa, police and prosecutors say.

    Alvarez, 26, has identified himself as an Azusa 13 member in contacts with Azusa police, Bertelsen testified.

    Several of Alvarez's family members attended a hearing last month in Perez and Alvarez's case in Pomona Superior Court.

    In a hallway outside the courtroom, the relatives called him a good person and said he changed after spending several years in custody.

    His mother, who declined to give her name, said Alvarez has been in and out of custody since he was 16.

    "So everything he is now, he learned from being in there," she said. "What he is now - in there, in prison. They're the ones that changed him."

    Alvarez's mother said she visited her son in jail after his arrest in Romero's killing, and he told her he was innocent.

    "I believe him," she said. "We talked, and I believe him."

    Alvarez's aunt, who asked to be identified by her first name, Ester, said: "All I can say about my nephew is I love him, and he's a good man."


  4. #4
    Moderator MRBAM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Capital Region NY
    I'm sorry for posting this question/comment on this thread, but I had to get this thought out of my head and looking at this murder convict forced me to expel it from my mind :

    Has anyone noticed the link between DR prisoners / murder and tattoos? If my admin friends want to move this question to a more appropriate spot please do so, but I figured this jerk was as good as any. I mean he should have gotten "P R I S O N" inked on his lip or perhaps "ANUS" instead of "AZUSA".

    Before anyone stomps on me for implying that tattoo's mean prison, please understand I don't. But....I really think the opposite is true 99.5% of the time. Is it boredom? Is it to prove to fellow inmates they enjoy pain? I'd love to understand how prisoners get so inked up when they are supposed to be IN PRISON locked away from everything except concrete, bars and a metal toilet.

    If they get so inked before they commit these crimes, then again I wonder if there is a link between putting a tattoo of the world over your head and potential to commit serious crime. Maybe I should write Richard Dieter at DPIC and see if they would like to investigate something new instead of the same old huff.

    Again I'm sorry for posting the rant here, but with the glacial pace Cali's cases move I'm sure this thread won't get much activity for a long long time.

  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Convictions of 2 Gang Members Upheld for Killing Witness in Another Member's Murder Trial

    Roberta Romero was driving from West Covina to Pomona and shot three times—once each in the head, chest and back on May 11, 2009.

    A state appeals court panel on Wednesday upheld the convictions of two men for killing a woman who had testified in the murder of trial of one of their fellow gang members.

    The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense's contention that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation by Ramiro Alvarez and Rodney Coronel Perez, who were convicted of the May 11, 2009, shooting death of 24-year-old Roberta Romero.

    She was driving from West Covina to Pomona and shot three times—once each in the head, chest and back—slightly over a year after testifying as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of Ralph Flores, who belonged to the same gang as Perez and Alvarez.

    Flores was sentenced to death in September 2008 after being convicted of four murders.

    In a 15-page ruling, the appellate justices noted that Romero was killed "in revenge for her testimony" and that jurors could reasonably infer that it would serve as "a warning to others who might consider testifying against members of the gang."

    "Shortly after arriving at a secluded residential area, they put on their gloves, took Romero out of the car and walked her to a cul-de-sac where they forced her to kneel on the ground and shot her execution-style -- at close range in the head, heart and back," the justices noted.

    The panel found that there was "substantial evidence that both Alvarez and Perez personally and intentionally shot Romero," noting that forensic evidence is "consistent with the conclusion that Romero suffered three bullet wounds from two different caliber guns."

    Alvarez and Perez were convicted in April 2012 of first-degree murder, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness to a crime and murder to further the activities of a criminal street gang.

    The two were sentenced in December 2012 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors opted not to seek the death penalty after two juries deadlocked on whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.


  6. #6
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On June 27, 2012, counsel was appointed to represent Flores on direct appeal before the California Supreme Court.


  7. #7
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    On July 17, 2016, Flores filed his initial brief.


  8. #8
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    On the 7th of August 2018, the prosecution filed its response.


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