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Sentencing: 93 years to life for 4-year old boy's killer

Roberto Lopez Jr. 4Howard Astorga, a 26-year-old Latino, was sentenced Thursday to 93 years to life in state prison for the 2009 killing of Roberto Lopez Jr., a 4-year-old Latino from Echo Park. A jury convicted Astorga last month in the killing of Roberto, who was hit by a stray bullet as he walked with his sister and cousins to a nearby park in the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009.

The Times' Robert J. Lopez reports:

A parolee and documented gang member was sentenced Thursday to 93 years to life in state prison for the 2009 slaying of a 4-year-old boy in Echo Park.

Howard Astorga, 26, was convicted in February of the killing of Roberto Lopez Jr., who was hit by a stray bullet as he walked with his sister and cousins to a park in the 1200 block of Court Street, prosecutors said.

Astorga had intended to shoot a rival gang member, police said.

The crime sparked community outrage. More than 500 people attended Roberto's funeral, at which  Cardinal Roger M. Mahony conducted a Mass in Spanish.

Photo: Roberto Lopez Jr. 4, in photo left at a site of a makeshift vigil on the site where he was killed

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