Convicted murderers plead not guilty to assaulting jailers

Two men convicted in separate murders pleaded not guilty in San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday to charges of felony battery of a correctional officer for the beating they allegedly gave two correctional officers at the San Mateo County jail.

Faustino Ayala, 24, of Redwood City, and Brian Hedlin, 29, of Hayward, appeared in red jumpsuits and handcuffs and pleaded not guilty to the assault charges in front of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan.

The men each face up to eight years on top of time for their respective murder convictions, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Ayala and Hedlin were awaiting their trials and sharing a cell in the San Mateo County jail's maximum security section when
on April 13, 2007, a deputy sheriff witnessed Hedlin acting strangely near the cell window that faced to the center of the jail security area, Wagstaffe said.

The deputy told Hedlin to move away from the window and Hedlin did not comply, according to Wagstaffe. The deputy then said he would have to move Hedlin and upon entering the cell was attacked.

While Hedlin attacked and punched the deputy, a correctional officer came to assist and was attacked by Ayala.

Ayala punched the officer in the head and put him into a headlock before additional deputies arrived and subdued the cellmates, according to Wagstaffe.

Ayala has been charged with two counts felony battery on a correctional officer for gang purposes and two counts of threatening a law enforcement officer, and Hedlin has been charged with one count of felony battery on a correctional officer for gang purposes and two counts of threatening a law enforcement officer.

The gang-enhancements were added because both men are believed gang members and attacking a jailer enhances a member's position in a gang, Wagstaffe said.

Ayala was found guilty June 23 for second-degree murder with the special allegation the murder was committed and a firearm used for gang purposes in the death of 21-year-old Francisco Rodriguez. He was the driver of a car full of people wearing bandanas that pulled up in front of Rodriguez's home on Poplar Avenue in Redwood City on July 12, 2005.

Rodriguez had been working in his front yard with his brother-in-law and a friend when one of the car's occupants jumped out and
shot Rodriguez once in the back of the head, prosecutors said. The shooter then fled in the vehicle.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez was a former Norteno gang member, targeted by rival Sureno assailants.

Investigators believe the shooter was Josue Raul Orozco. Orozco, now 17, remains at large after escaping from the San Mateo County Youth Services Center on Feb. 14.

Three other people involved in the murder, including Orozco's younger brother, are in custody of the California Youth Authority and will serve up to age 25 for their convictions.

Hedlin was found guilty March 27 for first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Gregorio Chicas with two counts attempted premeditated and deliberate murder for others injured during the crime, Wagstaffe said.

Although Hedlin is an alleged gang member, the crime was not gang-motivated, according to Wagstaffe.

On Jan. 31, 2005, Hedlin and his brother Shawn Hedlin entered the residence of Chicas in the 600 block of Third Lane. Shawn Hedlin fatally shot Chicas, and then shot Chicas' girlfriend Jeannette Briones and roommate Eduardo Zapparolli. A second woman suffered a broken back after jumping out a window to escape the attack, according to the district attorney's office.

This was a second strike case for Hedlin, who faces 75 years to life in prison, according to Wagstaffe. Hedlin currently awaits sentencing for the conviction.

The District Attorney's Office has not placed importance in seeking additional time for the men, who are likely to spend life in prison
anyway, but a conviction on the charges will change the housing classification for Ayala and Hedlin when they enter state prison, Wagstaffe said.

“Time is not the factor,” Wagstaffe said. “We want the conviction so they will be properly classified.”

Judge Cretan ordered Ayala and Hedlin to appear Dec. 8 for a pretrial conference and Jan. 26 for a jury trial. Both remain in custody on no-bail status.

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