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Gang Member Found Guilty of 2006 Slaying of Santa Monica Youths

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier


By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

November 15, 2013 -- Seven years after two Santa Monica youth were shot dead in the streets of their home town, a jury found Jose Zapien guilty of the crimes.

Los Angeles resident Zapien, who was also convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder Tuesday, was 18 when Santa Monica police arrested him in connection with the 2006 murders of 15-year-old Eduardo Lopez and 22-year-old Miguel Martin. ("Eight Alleged Gang Members Charged with Two Murders, Serial Shooting," February 9, 2007)

Zapien, whose trial lasted two weeks, was convicted by the jury after only five hours of deliberation and is facing multiple life sentences for his role in the murders, officials said.

“Detectives from the Santa Monica Police Department worked diligently to solve these acts of gang violence and to successfully prosecute Zabien,” police officials said.

While Zapien was a known Los Angeles gang member, Lopez was unaffiliated.

The star athlete and Santa Monica High School student was not the target of the bullet that killed him in front of a mini mart in February 2006. ("Schoolmates Mourn Eddie Lopez's Death," March 3, 2006)

“In one shooting Zapien was with other suspects when they approached a group of young teenagers and fired several gunshots, killing Eddie Lopez,” police officials said.

“Eddie was well liked by all and gunned down at the prime of his life,” they said.

Several months later, in December, Martin was gunned down in the parking lot of the Pico Neighborhood’s Virginia Avenue Park while running from his attackers. ("Victim of Gang Violence Remembered," January 4, 2007)

Unlike Lopez, Martin had been involved in “low level” gang activity, authorities told The Lookout in 2006.

According to his family, Martin had been working to turn his life around when he was shot in the back days before Christmas.

Shortly after Martin’s death, Santa Monica police arrested eight alleged gang members and charged them with both murders.

Zapien will be sentenced on January 9, 2014.

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