Man sentenced to death for two gang-related murders
A Norwalk gang member was sentenced to death after being convicted of two 2009 murders and two attempted murders.
Heraclio Meza, a 28-year-old Latino, was 20 when he shot Alejandro Flores, a 17-year-old Latino from Bellflower, on July 16, 2009, according to court records.
The following day, Meza shot Rayshawn Stewart, a 22-year-old black man affiliated with Meza’s gang, after an argument turned physical, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mitch Loman.
Stewart had been hanging out with fellow gang members in a house at Clarksdale Avenue and Nava Street in Norwalk, Loman said.
About 5 p.m., an argument broke out between Stewart and Meza, who took the confrontation outside, Loman said.
Surveillance video from a neighbor’s home showed the two men fighting and Meza pulling out a gun and shooting Stewart multiple times, officials said.
“It happened in broad daylight, and it was captured on video,” Loman said.
Stewart was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:29 p.m., according to coroner’s records.
His family was devastated, Loman said. They had tried to keep him away from the gang, but Stewart insisted he wanted to be with his friends.
“They were just regular folks, and this horrible thing happened to them,” he said. “They were very nice people who were sad he got involved with the wrong people.”
The day after the shooting, authorities arrested Meza, who threw a gun when approached by deputies, Loman said. The gun was linked to the Stewart slaying, as well as the fatal shooting of Alejandro Flores, a 17-year-old Bellflower youth who was shot the day before in Norwalk.
Meza and a fellow gang member, Jorge Humberto Carlos, mistook Alejandro and his two brothers for rival gang members and fired seven shots into their car, striking Alejandro, who was in the back seat, authorities said.
Meza was convicted in both murders and also was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle, said Los Angeles County district attorney spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
The commission of multiple murders and gang-related killings made Meza eligible for capital punishment, and he was sentenced to death on Feb. 2, 2017, Ardalani said.