David Cruz Ponce and Max Eliseo Rafael, were found guilty last month of five counts of murder and one count of kidnapping, the death penalty has been recommended for Ponce. They were also found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder during a kidnapping and murder while the defendants were active participants in a criminal street gang.
Meanwhile, Ponce was also found guilty of one additional count of murder and kidnapping and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. Ponce, 37-years old, is scheduled to return to court on November 27th for a sentencing setting hearing.
David Cruz Ponce and Max Eliseo Rafael had fatally shot Lorenzo Villicana, Katherine Verdun, Hamid Shraifat, Frederick Neumeier and Vanessa Malapule on November 1, 2008, all five victims were living in a homeless encampment near an off ramp off the 405 Freeway in Long Beach. David Cruz Ponce was also convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Tony Bledsoe on March 23, 2009.
Max Eliseo Rafael is facing up to life in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to court to be sentenced on November 16th.