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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Alleged Mexican Mafia member convicted in May of conspiring to kill a veteran gang member was denied a new trial

Alleged Mexican Mafia member convicted in May of conspiring to kill a veteran gang member was denied a new trial on Tuesday by a Pomona Superior Court judge.
Julio Ponce Felix Jr., 35, was accused by prosecutors of arranging details of the hit and supplying the gun to be used to kill Frankie Buelna, 61.
The gang believed Buelna, a fellow Mexican Mafia member, was conducting criminal gang activities outside his authorized neighborhood, prosecutors said. Prosecutors charged Felix and three other alleged gang members in the plot to kill Buelna, which was foiled in 2005 by Pomona police who were monitoring phone conversations between the men. Buelna was later shot and killed in November 2006 at Characters Sports Bar in downtown Pomona. The 2006 killing remains unsolved, and investigators said they are unsure whether it is related to Buelna's gang activities. All four men charged in the initial conspiracy were in jail awaiting trial at the time of the killing. Felix's defense attorney on Tuesday argued that Felix deserved a new trial because some evidence presented to the jury should not have been. Attorney Charles Uhalley said a police investigator testified during Felix's trial that Buelna had been killed, a fact that the attorneys and the judge had agreed would not be presented to the jury. Judge Robert Martinez apparently disagreed that the testimony in question, as well as other aspects of the trial cited by the defense, prejudiced the jury enough to warrant a new trial. Felix is set to be sentenced Jan. 15. He has two strikes from prior convictions, Uhalley said. Two of the other men charged in the conspiracy were also convicted in May. Ricardo Polanco, 26, has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. Arthur Garcia, 38, who prosecutors say was the highest-ranking gang member involved in the plot, has been sentenced to 55 years to life in prison. The fourth defendant, 49-year-old Darryl Castrejon, is still awaiting trial. He is next due in court Jan. 27.

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