Thursday, September 11, 2003

We were going through an old AVENUES case the other night and came across a homicide that should scare anybody who buys illegal drugs, even from people you know or think you know. Of course, no In The Hat reader would ever dream of buying or selling narcotics. Right?

The story goes like this. On MAY 23, 1998, three FILIPINOS went to 5642 ALDAMA to buy coke and/or meth from EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and/or RHONDA COVARRUBIAS his wife. When the FILIPINOS got to the back door of the location, they were met by three Hispanics. One of the Hispanics pulled a gun. The three "CHINAS" (that's what Latino gangsters call FILIPINOS) ran for it. But one of the Hispanics, 15-year-old ROBERT GONZALEZ, started blasting and killed CESAR TOLENTINO.

It seems that RHONDA, the dealer, had inadvertently tipped off her homeboy (deleted) that the three CHINAS were coming over to buy some big quantity and they’d have lots of money. (Deleted) had also found out that the CHINAS were never strapped so they'd be an easy take down.

So RAMIREZ rounded up some homeboys (ROBERT GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ) and decided to jack up the CHINAS. The deal went totally sideways when the CHINAS fought back with their fists. A boxing match ensued but GONZALEZ couldn’t hold his water and started shooting.

To make a long story short, LOPEZ, (deleted) and GONZALEZ copped a plea to voluntary manslaughter right in the middle of their jury trial. It wasn't going well for them and the lawyers figured that they should get out while they could before the jury returned with a guilty verdict and the inevitable death sentence. This was, after all, a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE case in which a murder was committed in the course of a robbery. And that gets you the cyanide pill.

As a result of the plea, they were each sentenced to 11 years. RHONDA was sentenced to time served and 5 years probation. CESAR is still dead, however. To us, 11 years doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a murder committed during a robbery. But since the actual shooter was 15, there was no death penalty available for him. We guess you can get away with murder.

At the time of the murder (deleted) was 19 and already had 4 kids. LOPEZ was 28 and he also had four children. You have to wonder what sort of citizens those unfortunate and innocent children will grow into. The tragedy is that some time in the future, In The Hat will sadly probably be writing about them.

Here's the cautionary tale part of the story. One of the CHINAS, HANSON ADAMS, was a friend of EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and they occasionally did drug deals together. For instance, ADAMS used to come to EUGENIO'S house and cook up meth and then go halves on the profits. ADAMS also knew (deleted), GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ because LOPEZ would occasionally live in the COVARRUBIAS house. So the moral of the story is, DON'T TRUST ANYBODY. Even the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth. Especially the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth.

Here's one for CELESTE FREMON. According to the FREMON "rules of the street" ADAMS and TOLENTINO were not supposed to be set up and jacked up by their "friends." CELESTE, do us a favor and get a POST-IT note and paste it to your SMITH-CORONA, IMAC, or clay tablet or whatever you use. Write on it, THERE ARE NO RULES ON THE STREET. Got that? See you in the BARRIO, babe.

But here's the ultimate in irony. GONZALEZ was allowed to finish getting his GED before being sentenced to his 11 years by judge LANCE ITO (yeah that one). Also, GONZALEZ' lawyer asked that some letters be inserted into GONZALEZ file. One was from a drama teacher who said that GONZALEZ applied himself diligently to learning his lines and being on time for a YOUTH AUTHORITY production of HAMLET. And there was another letter in the file from GONZALEZ meditation teacher who said that the convicted killer (my characterization) was getting in touch with his feelings etc. So, the other moral is, kill a guy in a drug deal and get free drama and meditation lessons. Welcome to the oppressively harsh system of American justice. Gee, you think murderers get meditation and drama classes in say, the People's Paradise of Cuba? Just asking.