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Gang member convicted of killing a grandmother trying to stop tagging

February 8, 2012 | 12:04 pm

Maria Hicks memorial

A Pico Rivera gang member could face life in prison after he was convicted this week for the fatal 2007 shooting of a 57-year-old woman who tried to stop another gang member from tagging a wall.

A Norwalk jury found Angel Rojas, 21, guilty of first-degree murder for the Aug. 10, 2007, killing of Maria Hicks, a grandmother, the Whittier Daily News reported.

His co-defendants -- Jennifer Tafolla, 24, and Richard Rolon, 25 -- were acquitted of murder but were found guilty of street terrorism, the newspaper reported. The crime carries a maximum sentence of three years, but the two will get credit for the 4 1/2 years they have already served.

In 2007, Hicks was killed after she tried to stop a member of the Brown Authority gang, of which the three defendants were members, from tagging over another gang's tag. Authorities said she flashed her lights and honked her horn, then followed the gang member in her car when he started walking away.

Rojas got out of the car he was in with Tafolla and Rolon, and fired several times at Hick's sport-utility vehicle. She was shot in the head and died three days later.

Hicks' daughter, Melinda Wall, told the Daily News she was disappointed the two others won't face more severe punishment.

"That was their choice in life," she said, "and my mom paid the ultimate price."


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Photo: Raven Carrenza, 6, hugs her mom, Monica Cruz, of Whittier, as they attend a memorial in 2007 for Maria Hicks, who was killed by a gang member. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times