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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gang Member With Tattoo of Crime Scene Convicted of Murder

Gang Member With Tattoo of Crime Scene Convicted of Murder

By Tori Richards

NORWALK, Calif. -- In 2008, Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide Sgt. Kevin Lloyd was preparing to testify as an expert in a gang case by poring over a photo album of tattoos. Then one picture stopped him.

Emblazoned across the chest of a dark-haired man was the tattoo of a liquor store that looked vaguely familiar. It was in the city of Pico Rivera, an east Los Angeles suburb where Lloyd had worked four years earlier. Upon closer inspection, Lloyd could see intricate details, including a light post, store Christmas lights and gunfire.

Tattoo of Murder
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept
Anthony Garcia's tattoo showing a "Mr. Peanut" character getting shot from a helicopter near a liquor store caught the eye of a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant and eventually led to a murder conviction.
It also showed a "Mr. Peanut" character getting shot from a helicopter under the banner, "Rivera Kills." Lloyd knew that "peanut" was a term for a rival gang and "chopper" was the nickname of the person Lloyd was staring at -- Anthony Garcia.

Lloyd "was shocked by the perspective of that tattoo," sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said. "It all started coming back to him, he remembered standing in that position and looking at this homicide scene."

This week Garcia, 25, was convicted of the 2004 murder that was played across his chest like a beacon proclaiming "I'm guilty." He will be sentenced May 19 in Norwalk, Calif., and faces a minimum of 65 years in prison.

"This is very extraordinary," said the case prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford. "You see him as an exhibit because he has such detail. The victim is actually [falling] down in the right place. The copter is shooting from the right to the left. There is even a curve to the light post, which is a pretty unusual type of light post."

Lunsford told AOL News that the tattoo was identical to the scene where unarmed rival gang member John Juarez was ambushed and gunned down outside Ed's Liquor. Before the shooting, Juarez was on the telephone in a nearby phone booth. After hanging up, he was walking away when Garcia approached and used the common gang phrase, "Where are you from?" before firing.

Garcia didn't have a personal connection to Juarez; the victim just happened to be in an area that Garcia's gang had claimed as its turf. Coincidentally, Lloyd had talked to Juarez a week before the shooting and urged him to quit the gang. Juarez said he would.
The case remained unsolved for years because there were no witnesses. After Lloyd started working on the case, the Sheriff's Department worked undercover and obtained a confession from Garcia. The getaway driver also implicated him to avoid receiving a maximum sentence.

The tip-off to the murderer had been right in front of authorities for years. During the trial, Lunsford showed jurors a series of Garcia's booking photos, taken for other offenses after the murder. Each photo showed the progression of the tattoo -- how different elements were added at different times. Lunsford also obtained a photo of Garcia at the beach before the murder without the tattoo.

"He's an extremely arrogant man, but not stupid. He got away with this murder for awhile," Lunsford said. "He was proud of what he did. His arrogance just got the better of him."

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