Gang Member Convicted in Shooting of ‘American Me’ Film Adviser
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A street gang member was convicted Monday of murder in the slaying of a gang counselor who worked as a technical adviser on the Edward James Olmos film ″American Me.″
Jose Gilbert Gonzales, 30, could be sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for the May 1992 killing of Ana Lizarraga, 49.
The motive for the attack was unclear. But prosecutors said outside court it may have been linked to Lizarraga’s work on ″American Me,″ a film about the formation of the Mexican Mafia prison gang.
″We’re still investigating the crime,″ said Deputy District Attorney Frank Johnson, the trial prosecutor. ″It is definitely possible that it was Mexican Mafia-related.″
Ms. Lizarraga, who grew up in an East Los Angeles housing project, was among the top counselors at Community Youth Gang Services, where she helped cool gang members’ tempers and counseled children and parents on ways to keep youths out of gangs.
Ms. Lizarraga was attacked by two assailants in ski masks as she and her boyfriend were packing the car for a trip to Utah to attend her mother’s funeral. Ms. Lizarraga was shot about a dozen times.
A passing police officer saw the shooting and Gonzales was quickly arrested. A second assailant got away and has yet to be found.
The route Gonzales took to flee the murder scene was littered with a ski mask, shirt and the gun used in the killing, prosecutors said.
Gonzales’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Patrick Thomason, said his client ran after hearing the gunshots because Gonzales, a gang member recently released from prison, feared the shots were meant for him.
Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan told the jury: ″I’m not permitted by law to discuss with you whether or not I think your verdict was correct. But I think you can all sleep well tonight.″