What led to the 2006 death of Cheryl Green was not a calculated crime but an indiscriminate racial hatred that has long plagued a narrow strip of Los Angeles squeezed between Torrance and Carson, known as the Harbor Gateway area, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
It was a world in which intimidating and killing blacks was a “full-time enterprise” for powerful Latino gangs, and walls covered in graffiti with racial epithets made it abundantly clear that blacks were not welcome in the area, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gretchen Ford told jurors.
Jonathan Fajardo, now 22, faces the death penalty if convicted of [Cheryl] Green’s murder. Fajardo and a second defendant, Daniel Aguilar, 23, are also accused in the stabbing death of a potential witness, a fellow gang member whom they suspected of talking to the police shortly after the shooting. Aguilar is not charged in Green’s killing.
Ford said the chain of events began with a black man driving up in an SUV to a market in the area that members of the 204th Street gang frequented. When Fajardo and others approached the car, the man flashed a gun, and the gang members, who were unarmed, fled.
Fajardo, angry over the confrontation, retrieved a gun from a friend’s apartment and later opened fire on Green and her friends because they were black, Ford alleged.
Police, suspecting that the 204th Street gang was involved because the shooting had targeted blacks, served search warrants on known gang hangouts, one of which was the apartment of Christopher Ash. When Ash was arrested but released later the same day, the gang began “gossiping” that he might have been cooperating with the police, Ford said.
Gang members lured Ash to a garage, where they took turns stabbing him, Ford told the jury.
Ash’s body, stabbed 80 times and with his throat slit, was found on the side of a road in Carson two weeks after Green’s death.
Ford said Fajardo, in a lengthy statement to police, admitted to Green’s killing and to suspecting Ash of being a snitch. He believed that Ash, the only non-Latino member of the gang, kept a diary about the gang’s dealings, Ford said.