A Fresno man was found guilty Thursday of killing an innocent victim and her unborn child eight years ago for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
With his family in the courtroom, Jose Angel Perez Jr., 29, showed no emotion when the verdict was announced in Fresno County Superior Court.
He later told his attorney, Peter Jones: "Tell my family I'm OK and I have to accept responsibility for what I did."
Nath Ouch, 20 and eight months pregnant, was gunned down during the early hours of Feb. 1, 2006, as she held a pot of soup outside an apartment complex near Tulare and Peach avenues in southeast Fresno.
Thursday, a jury of eight women and four men found Perez guilty of two counts of first degree-murder for killing Ouch and her unborn child, who was identified in court as Baby Ouch.
The jury also found true the special allegations that the multiple murder was committed for the benefit of the Asian Boyz street gang.
Perez faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced March 5.
During the one-week trial, prosecutor Jeff Dupras and Jones agreed Ouch was an innocent victim caught in a gang war between the Tiny Rascal Gang (TRG) and the Asians Boyz (ABZ).
The lawyers also agreed Perez was an ABZ member and Ouch was visiting relatives at an apartment complex that was a TRG hangout.
In dispute was whether Perez intended to kill Ouch.
Jones told the jury Perez was too drunk and high on Ecstasy to know what he was doing. His intent was to spray the TRG hangout with bullets -- not kill anyone, Jones said.
In addition, Ouch and her unborn child were killed by single bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle, he said. Perez was armed with a handgun.
Sokmorn Chea, the ABZ member who fired 30 rounds from an AK-47, was convicted in 2007 of killing Ouch. He is serving life in prison without parole.
Dupras told jurors that Perez is just as guilty as Chea, saying both men hid in the dark at Easterby School and waited for their enemies to leave the apartment complex before firing their weapons.
Perez declined to testify in the trial, but some of his ABZ associates, who are doing long prison terms for their roles in the attack, testified against him.
Jurors deliberated about eight hours over three days before announcing their decision. They left the courthouse without commenting.
Perez is the last defendant to have his trial because he fled to Mexico after the shooting. He stayed there five years until FBI agents, with help from Mexican authorities, arrested him.
Outside court Thursday, Ouch's family said they were thankful for Dupras' hard work and the verdict.
"It's been a long eight years," said Ouch's sister, Sarouth Pat, 33. "We miss her a lot."
The killing has caused the family a lot of pain.
Ouch's then-24-year-old husband, Chanbory Nop, who was associated with the Tiny Rascal Gang, shot himself in an apparent suicide two weeks after her death.
If Ouch hadn't died, her baby was going to be named Cali Ann, her family said.
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