Secret recordings made by an alleged MS-13 gang member turned snitch can be used by state prosecutors at a hearing for two other alleged gang members accused of knifing a 14-year-old boy to death in 2008, a judge has ruled.
Defense attorneys in the case had sought to bar audiotape testimony recorded by Roberto “Bad Boy” Acosta, who became a federal informant against the local MS-13 20th Street clique in the Mission district in 2005.
Acosta lost his status as a key witness in a major federal MS-13 prosecution earlier this year, after he admitted just days before the trial began that he had committed eight murders in Honduras. He was subsequently convicted of making a false statement to federal authorities.
But District Attorney’s Office prosecutors argued that Acosta’s recording of four other alleged MS-13 members hours after the July 31, 2008, fatal stabbing of Ivan Miranda at an Excelsior district street corner was admissible under state law.
Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan ruled in favor of the prosecution Friday, according to District Attorney’s Office spokesman Omid Talai.
“It’s an important ruling, but there are many other pieces of evidence that point to guilt,” said Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew, the prosecutor on the case. He cited one eyewitness to the slaying, along with cellphone records that put the suspects in the vicinity at the time of the murder.
According to court documents, two of the alleged gang members, Rony “Guerrillero” Aguilera and Marlon “Condón” Rivera, were heard on tape laughing about Miranda’s killing.
“Boom, I stabbed him, it got stuck and it went in and out here, then this dude stabbed him,” Aguilera reportedly told Acosta. “Both of us crazy, in and out here, homeboy!” Aguilera said his weapon had been “a Chinese-style sword.”
Aguilera, 20, and Rivera, 18, are both facing murder, robbery and gang charges. Two other men — Cesar “Momia” Alvarado and Walter “Demonio” Chinchilla — pleaded guilty in federal court last year to conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering for Miranda’s slaying. A fifth suspect, Yonis Gomez, was deported, according to prosecutors.
The group had been out “hunting” Norteños after Gomez’s father had been shot earlier that night, according to court filings. Miranda’s only apparent offense was wearing large, bright-red shoelaces in his sneakers — the color associated with Norteños.
The preliminary hearing for Aguilera and Rivera is scheduled to begin Jan. 17.
Aguilera’s attorney did not return a call for comment Monday, and Rivera’s attorney declined to discuss the case.
Conversations by Ivan Miranda’s alleged killers, secretly recorded hours after the homicide by a confidential informant, offer potentially damning evidence about their culpability.
“I stabbed him, I stabbed him like three times in the heart, and then I stabbed him a bunch of times in the back, crazy.”
“The good thing was that we didn’t flash anything, nor throw any signs at them. … No, we were smart about it, dog.”
“We even hid the knife.
… Yeah, dude, because all my fingerprints are on it, since I didn’t wear any gloves.”
“Hey, what made me laugh is how he went down; he even closed his legs, and then dropped dead, like this, look!” (Laughs)
“We went hunting around there last night. … We only caught one deer.”
*Aguilera and Rivera have pleaded not guilty to murder, robbery and gang charges.
Source: Court filing by prosecutors