Defendant acquitted of murder in Libby Lake killings - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Defendant acquitted of murder in Libby Lake killings

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VISTA (CNS) - A 21-year-old man was acquitted of first-degree murder charges Thursday in a shooting nearly three years ago at an Oceanside park that left two teenagers dead and two others wounded.
   
Santo Diaz is the first of four defendants to be tried in the deaths of 13-year-old Melanie Virgen and her 15-year-old friend, Edgar Sanchez. Authorities said the victims were innocent victims of a conflict between rival gangs.
   
Jurors who heard Diaz's trial deadlocked on second-degree murder and attempted murder charges. A status conference is scheduled March 21 and the case will be retried sometime after that, Deputy District Attorney Christine Bannon said.
   
Diaz testified that he was present during the March 13, 2013, shooting at Libby Lake Park but did not shoot or kill anyone. The defendant said he was walking home from his girlfriend's house when a group of his fellow gang members pulled up in a truck and picked him up. Bannon argued that Diaz helped plan the attack in which three guns were fired.
   
Defense attorney Sherry Stone told the jury that Diaz never held a gun or fired a weapon.
   
Oceanside police said the defendants fired on the victims about 9 p.m. near a makeshift memorial for two teens who had been killed in the park.
   
According to the prosecution, the victims were all sitting near each other on a couch that had been placed near the memorial when they were fired upon. The memorial was for Sandra Salgado, 14, and her boyfriend, 16-year-old Fernando Solano, who were gunned down in a gang assault two years earlier.
   
Martin Melendrez, 24, Michael Zurita, 22, and Kevin Brizuela, 20, are scheduled for trial Jan. 11.

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