MS-13 Gang Member Convicted in 2001 Murder of 13-year old girl

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that MS-13 gang member, Jorge Palacios, has been convicted in the 2001 murder of a 13-year old Whittier girl. He was found guilty of one count first-degree murder, also finding true special circumstance allegations that the crime occurred in the commission of rape, lewd acts on a child and kidnapping, and was also convicted of one count of kidnapping to commit rape. The jury found true gang and gun allegations.

He is scheduled for sentencing on April 11th in Department 106 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Another jury is considering similar charges against Rogelio Contreras, Melvin Sandoval, and Santos Grimaldi, who’s charges include an allegation of personally using a gun. This separate trial is scheduled to resume Monday, with the defense’s closing arguments in Department 106.

The victim’s body, Jacqueline Piazza, was found in Elysian Park on June 28th, 2001, she was shot twice in the head. Though her murder remained unsolved for nearly a decade, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery and Homicide Division working with the Gang and Narcotics Division manage to uncover new information and presented it to the District attorney’s hardcore gang division, and in June 2012 an indictment was unsealed, charging the four men in the crime. Prosecutors announced that the defendants kidnapped the victim the night before she was found, and then drove her to a remote area of the park where they sexually assaulted and killed her allegedly.