SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 22-year-old gang member who gunned down two high school students leaving a party in Valencia Park pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder charges.
Frederick Garcia Cruz, who killed Monique Palmer, 17, and Michael Taylor, 15, on Dec. 6, 2008, is expected to be sentenced to 50 years to life in prison on March 11.
In addition to the pair of murder counts, the defendant admitted allegations that he intentionally and personally discharged a firearm. A special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with gang allegations, were dismissed in light of the plea, said Deputy District Attorney Mike Still.
Cruz was serving time in prison for an unrelated robbery when he was arrested last fall for the teens' murders.
They were at a party in the 5500 block of Churchward Street when three carloads of gang members arrived and shouted threats. Two pointed handguns at the partygoers, prompting the victims and other partygoers to leave.
They were walking on San Jacinto Drive when two people approached and struck up a conversation before one of them pulled a gun and fired. A second gunman is still being sought, Still said.
Palmer, a Cal State Los Angeles-bound senior who was president of the Lincoln High School campus chapter of Students Against Violence Everywhere, died at the scene.
Taylor, a freshman football player at Point Loma High School, died about 45 minutes later at a hospital.
Derrelle Oliver and James Tyler were previously arrested in the case.
Tyler pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon for pointing a BB gun at the crowd leaving the party and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Tyler was arrested on similar charges and is awaiting trial March 1.
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