Three 17-year-olds arrested in the fatal shooting of a good Samaritan who was trick-or-treating with his son on Halloween will be tried as adults on murder charges, the District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.
Diamonte Jerome McGhee, Branden Trevaughn Higgs and Eric Michael Edwards each are charged with murder and other felonies in the slaying Monday of a dad who tried to stop a robbery in Canyon Country.
Alejandro "Alex" Sanchez Torres, 30, was killed in the presence of his 7-year-old son after he wielded a baseball bat as he tried to prevent the teenage suspects from beating a man as they robbed him of a Nintendo DS Game System.
Torres was shot in the chest and died at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. The unidentified robbery victim was shot in the leg and is expected to recover, officials said.
According to a criminal complaint, it was McGhee who fired the semi-automatic weapon at the two victims at the rear of a strip mall at 18354 1/2 Soledad Canyon Road.
"Considering it appears that all three took part in this assault, and took someone's life without due regard ... (life in prison) seems appropriate," said Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Homicide Division, which investigated the shootings.
"It appears at this point that the good Samaritan was just trying to do the right thing."
The suspects, all from Canyon Country, are scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 17 on charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy, according to the criminal complaint. They are being held without bail.
If convicted, each faces the maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole, officials said. Juveniles cannot face the death penalty.
The Canyon Country shooting has drawn heightened interest because Torres, an immigrant from Mexico, had risked his life to save another.
Newly sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and enrolled in parenting classes, the gardener from Pueblo, Mexico, had just reunited with his son, whom he hadn't seen in two months.
So Torres was thrilled to be out trick-or-treating with his son, Anthony, who was dressed in a black cape and Jason mask and armed with a baseball bat to make him look tough.
Torres had always told his son to buck fear, fight bullies and call police if there was trouble, according to his friends.
So when they crossed the Santa Clara River at 3 p.m. and saw the struggle over the video-game system, he reached for his son's bat, deputies said.
Throughout the week, friends paid their respects at a shrine made of a milk-crate filled with votive candles, a book on Jesus and a rosary. Torres had lived for years with a family located across the river, while commuting to a ranch in Valyermo.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office is talking with the Mexican Consulate about returning Torres' body to his native Mexico.
"We're working to get in touch with the family," said Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter. "The consulate is helping."
Friends said they were glad the alleged killers had been caught and will be facing justice.
"I feel that it was something really stupid that they did, over a game that cost $100," said Roxana Gonzalez, 17, of Canyon Country, who shared a home with Torres and was like a sister to him. "We are just feeling so bad about Alejandro.
"We just want justice."