Gang Member Admits Role in 2001 Va. Slaying

Tom Jackman, Washington Post, Dec. 10

A Salvadoran gang member admitted yesterday in a Fairfax County courtroom that he led the gang rape of a Falls Church area woman in the summer of 2001, then kicked her in the neck with such force that it killed her.

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The slaying was one of 10 in Northern Virginia believed to have been committed by Latino gangs since 2000. The killing of Diana Garcia, 24, was one of the most brutal and was one of four in which the victim was not a gang member. Hernandez told police that one of his friends claimed she was a “chavala,” or rival gang member, just before the attack.

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The three men had downed “four 12-packs” of beer, according to Hernandez. “We were very drunk,” he said.

About 2 a.m., they spotted Garcia, who was walking home from a nearby club to her apartment in the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, where she lived with her 2-year-old daughter. The three men followed her to the apartment, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John R. Murphy said, then grabbed her and carried her about 100 yards to a nearby creek.

Hernandez acknowledged that he raped Garcia first, though he claimed Garcia consented, and that the two others followed, the transcripts show. The men then asked whether she was going to tell police, Murphy said, and Garcia said she would.

“At that point, the defendant kicked her,” Murphy said, “and she went down.” The single blow ruptured Garcia’s left vertebral artery, and she died.

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Perez asked Hernandez whether killing someone increased his stature in MS-13. “Hell yeah,” Perez said Hernandez told him. “The crazier you’re known to be, the more respect the gang gives you,” Hernandez said. Hernandez’s gang nickname was “Psycho.”

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