[UPDATED WITH CHARGES] Esteban Navarrete, OC Homicide No. 4: Shot in Parking Lot Where Fight Erupted Over Whose Mexican State is Better

maria-rocha.jpg
Courtesy of SAPD
Maria Rocha
UPDATE, FEB. 23, 2:06 P.M.: The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) today announced charges against the third defendant in the senseless slaying of Esteban Navarrete.

Maria Isabel Rocha's 17-year-old brother, who is also a suspect, is also identified by the OCDA, which will try Ricardo Guerra Rocha as an adult for murder. Santa Ana police had previously withheld naming Ricardo Rocha because he is a juvenile.

The Rocha siblings could get 50 years to life in state prison if convicted of the charges against them. They are being held in lieu of $1 million bail each and were to be arraigned today in Santa Ana.

Prosecutors are seeking life in prison without the possibility of parole for Navarette's shooter, Ivan Sanchez, who is being held without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for March 2 in the Central Jail in Santa Ana.

According to the OCDA statement on today's arraignment hearing (which you can read in full below), Maria Rocha drove a car and waited for her brother and Sanchez as they confronted Navarette in the parking lot of Mariscos La Ola restaurant in Santa Ana on Feb. 13. The defendants and others who had been at the restaurant had been in a verbal argument that escalated into a fistfight with another group of diners over whose state in Mexico is better. Navarette and his party of diners were not involved in the altercation.

When Navarette got out of his car to explain that to the two males, Sanchez is alleged to have shot him once in the head. Sanchez and Ricardo Rocha then got into the car, with Maria Rocha behind the wheel, and were whisked away.

According to the OCDA, Sanchez and Ricardo Rocha are members of a Santa Ana gang.

February 23, 2011

SIBLINGS TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR SHOOTING-MURDER OF INNOCENT MAN OUTSIDE SANTA ANA RESTAURANT

SANTA ANA - A third defendant was charged today for the unprovoked shooting-murder of an innocent man outside of a restaurant in Santa Ana. Maria Isabel Rocha, 28, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death by a gang member and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison.

Maria Rocha's brother Ricardo Guerra Rocha, 17, Santa Ana, was charged Feb. 22, 2011, as an adult. He is charged  with the same counts as Maria Rocha with an additional felony count of street terrorism. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Maria and Ricardo Rocha are both being held on $1 million bail and are expected to be arraigned today, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

Ivan Sanchez, 21, Santa Ana, was charged Feb. 22, 2011, with one felony count each of special circumstances murder and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose, and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The defendant is being held without bail and is scheduled for arraignment March 2, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail.

On the night of Feb. 13, 2011, Sanchez, Rocha, and Rocha, are accused of getting into an argument with an unknown group of people at Mariscos La Ola restaurant in Santa Ana over which state in Mexico was better. The three defendants are accused of leaving the restaurant, driving to get a firearm, and returning to the parking lot several minutes later.

When the defendants arrived back at the restaurant, 35-year-old Esteban Navarrete was leaving the restaurant and getting into his car with his wife and friend. He did not know the defendants. Maria Rocha is accused of being the driver and waiting in the car for her co-defendants. Sanchez and Ricardo Rocha are both accused of being documented criminal street gang members. The male defendants are accused of getting out of the car and approaching the victims' vehicle. Navarrete, who is not associated with any criminal street gang, got out of his vehicle to explain that he and his passengers were not involved in the earlier argument.

Sanchez is accused of then murdering Navarrete by shooting him one time in the head. The defendant is accused of firing several shots, but the other victims were not hit. Sanchez and Ricardo Rocha are accused of getting back into the vehicle and Maria Rocha is accused of driving the defendants away from the scene.

The Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) investigated this case. On Feb. 17, 2011, Sanchez was arrested after SAPD performed a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by 20-year-old Manuel Toscano. Toscano is accused of attempting to drive Sanchez to Mexico to avoid prosecution. Toscano has been charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison if convicted. Maria and Ricardo Rocha turned themselves in to SAPD on Feb. 18, 2011.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller of the Gang Unit is prosecuting this case.



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