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More slayings tied to man who allegedly killed 5 at homeless camp

January 19, 2012 |  8:48 am

 

One of two men accused of killing five people at a homeless encampment in Long Beach in 2008 is also believed to be responsible for at least three other killings, police said.

David Cruz Ponce, 31, of Lancaster, and Max Eliseo Rafael, 25, of Los Angeles -- both alleged members of the Nuthood Watts gang -- were charged Wednesday with five counts of murder, which include special circumstances that make them subject to the death penalty.

Ponce and Rafael are expected to be arraigned Thursday in Long Beach.

Ponce was also charged with kidnapping and killing a Lancaster man in 2009.

Long Beach police said they believe that Ponce is responsible for other killings, including two in the Long Beach area. Authorities did not release details on those two cases but said the slaying occurred in the downtown Long Beach area and that one involved a woman.

Prosecutors allege the pair fatally shot one of the victims at the homeless camp because he owed them a drug debt and killed the others because they were witnesses.

They "were executed ... to ensure there were no witnesses to the crimes," Long Beach Police Lt. Lloyd Cox said of the Nov. 1, 2008 killings.

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-- Ruben Vives and Richard Winton


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