Sarith Yin, Santa Ana Gang Banger, Convicted of Murdering 16-year-old Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Sarith Yin
An Orange County Superior Court jury today found the first of six defendants in the slaying of 16-year-old Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who was shot in the back at a Tustin house party, guilty of first-degree murder. Sarith Yin, 24, of Santa Ana, was also convicted of active participation in a criminal street gang and committing the crime for the gang's benefit. Judge Francisco Briseno could sentence Yin to life in state prison without the possibility of parole at a scheduled April 20 hearing.

Here's what I reported at the time: Members of the Cambodian Tiny Rascal Gang and taggers just happened to be partying in houses a few blocks from one another on Myrtle Avenue in Tustin in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2010. When Santa Ana residents and Tiny Rascal members Ravy Nhem, 22, and Pablo Kachirisky, 23, walked past the taggers party, they were asked about their gang affiliation. Largely outnumbered, the pair went to a nearby liquor store and called for reinforcements. Among those who arrived were  Steven Kao, 23, of Santa Ana, and David Escobar, 22, of Murrieta, according to Tustin Police.

John Carlos Rodriguez
Guns were whipped out, more than a dozen bullets rained and Tustin High School student Rodriguez, who'd been partying with the taggers, was struck in the back in the crossfire. Noise from the gunfire produced shooting reports to Tustin Police, whose officers arrived to the Myrtle Avenue address to find blood but no shooting victim. Around 4 a.m., an anonymous call led police to an apartment in the 15400 block of Myrtle, where they discovered Rodriguez's dead body. His, uh, friends dragged him there but did not seek medical attention.

Nhem, Kachirisky, Kao and Escobar were quickly apprehended and held on suspicion of murder. Police say they found three firearms after a search of Kao's home. The foursome could get the death penalty with convictions.

Yin and fellow Tiny Rascals Gang member John Saway, 27, were later picked up in Long Beach and arrested on several charges, including first-degree murder. It took the six-man, six-woman jury about two hours to deliberate before handing over their verdict on Yin, reports the Orange County Register. Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino reportedly told the paper Yin was one of two triggermen who fired at a group, although he did not deliver the kill-shot. The defense had apparently tried to argue police picked up the wrong man.

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