A Riverside man and a Los Angeles man were among three prison inmates found guilty this week of second-degree murder in the killing of another inmate at a federal prison in Victorville.
The guilty verdicts from a federal jury on Wednesday, Jan. 18, stemmed from the 2013 killing of the 38-year-old inmate, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The killing was carried out by members of a prison gang called the Sureños, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The victim, Javier Sanchez, was serving a 10-year sentence for drug charges. He had been asked to stop using drugs by the gang, but continued to. The victim had also been skimming money owed to higher ups in the gang, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
On the day of the killing, the victim was escorted to the prison recreation yard, where he was attacked by three other inmates, the attorney’s office said. The men used their hands and feet to strike the victim repeatedly.
The victim died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Aurelio “Augie” Patino, 39, of Riverside, was serving a year and a half sentence at the time of the murder for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and had previously served an eight year, four month sentence in a California state prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Jose “Torch” Villegas, 41, of Los Angeles, is currently serving a 15-year sentence in a methamphetamine case; and the third inmate, Christopher Ruiz, 48, of San Diego, is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted of racketeering and methamphetamine-related charges.
All three of the inmates previously had pleaded last November to conspiracy to commit the second-degree murder, the attorney’s office said.
The trio will return to court on June 12 to be sentenced, with each defendant facing a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.