Zambrano convicted of conspiracy to commit murder

A Fresno man was found guilty today in San Mateo County Superior Court of masterminding a plot to kidnap, rape and murder a female employee in his Menlo Park jewelry store after she resisted his romantic advances.

After eight days of jury trial and four hours of deliberation a jury found Ricardo Zambrano, 38, guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, along with allegations that a principal in the crime was armed with a firearm. He was arrested following the June 2005 kidnapping by gunpoint of a woman who worked at his store inside the Mi Rancho market.

“He (Zambrano) got what was coming to him,” Deputy District Attorney Morris Maya said outside the courtroom today. “The community is a lot safer without him in it.”

Zambrano was convicted of conspiracy to commit rape, kidnapping for the purpose of rape, kidnapping in the commission of a carjacking, threatening a witness and false imprisonment in April, but the jury deadlocked 11-1 on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

Zambrano's original sentence was up to life in prison, but he would have been eligible for parole in as few as seven years so a retrial was requested, Maya said. Zambrano will now face a minimum of 25 years in prison before he will be eligible for parole.

“We pursued conspiracy charges because that is absolutely what he did,'' Maya said. “He's not going to pose a danger to anyone for a long time,” he added.

Alfonzo Cuevas Gonzalez, a 40-year-old Fresno man, carried out the kidnapping after being hired by Zambrano. Gonzalez carjacked the victim, a woman in her 20s from Mexico, and drove her to Fresno. At that point the plan went sour when he could not find his accomplices. The victim eventually escaped with the help of a Fresno woman who had foreknowledge of the plan.

A separate jury convicted Gonzalez in March of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit rape, kidnapping and felony threats. He was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison June 8.

A sentencing hearing will take place for Zambrano on Jan. 30. He is being held in custody without bail.

— Bay City News

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