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O.C. gang member who gunned down dealer for drugs found guilty

March 8, 2013 |  6:31 pm

An Orange County gang member has been convicted of gunning down a drug dealer in a plot to steal his drugs, prosecutors said Friday.

Joseph Baez, 28, was found guilty by a jury on Thursday of second-degree murder with sentencing enhancements for his ties to a street gang, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney's office.

Prosecutors also noted that Baez, a resident of Orange, has a 2008 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum sentence of 85 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

On Jan. 3, 2010, prosecutors said that Baez -- along with Robert Reil and Christian Galindo -- plotted to steal drugs from a dealer named Bernal Ezquivel Felix. A fellow gang member, Amour Villamar, was asked to arrange a meeting in Orange for that night.

About 11 p.m., prosecutors said they left for the meeting, with Baez and Reil carrying firearms. They pulled over in a residential area on Oak Street, in Orange, where Baez and Reil waited out of sight as Felix approached in a white sedan. Villamar got out of the sport-utility vehicle they rode in together and got into the back seat of Felix's car, according to prosecutors, under the pretense of buying drugs.

Then, prosecutors said, Baez sneaked up to the driver's window and shot him through the window, killing him. The car was still moving and stopped after it struck a parked car. Villamar left Felix's car empty-handed, and they all fled the scene.

Reil, 33, was found guilty by a jury a year ago of felony counts including first-degree murder during the commission of a robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and street terrorism. He was sentenced in May to 50 years to life in state prison.

Galindo, who drove the getaway car, pleaded guilty in 2011 to one felony count each of voluntary manslaughter and being an active participant in a criminal street gang. Galindo, 27, was sentenced to 12 years and four months in state prison.

Villamar, 33, is charged with one felony count of first-degree murder during the commission of a robbery, with sentencing enhancement for connections to a criminal street gang. She has two prior convictions: possession of methamphetamine for sale in 2004 and for the unlawful taking of a car in 2009.


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 -- Rick Rojas