first_img The argument turned into a fistfight and Matheu pulled out a gun and shot and killed Morua, homicide investigators said. The defendants are believed to be members of an East Los Angeles-based gang that has members in the Antelope Valley and was involved in drive-by shootings and other crimes in downtown Lancaster. Matheu was sentenced in April 2003 to a year in jail after pleading no contest to assault with a firearm in connection with two drive-by shootings. He previously had a conviction in 1999 of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Garcia was sentenced in 2000 to six years in prison for a burglary conviction and was released on parole in September 2003. Morua, 26, of Lancaster also was a parolee. He was sent to prison in 1996 after convictions on assault and weapon charges and originally released on parole in May 1998. He was returned to prison several times before being released on parole for the last time four months before he was killed, Department of Corrections records show. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card In addition to pleading no contest Thursday, Garcia admitted gang and gun allegations. The conviction marks a second strike for Garcia under California’s “three strikes, you’re out” law. Co-defendant Rafael Espinoza, 26, of Palmdale was sentenced in December to six years in prison after pleading no contest to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, being an accessory after the fact for murder, and possession of a firearm as an aider and abettor. Espinoza drove Matheu and Garcia on Feb. 17, 2003, to a house in the 44700 block of Elm Avenue where Matheu’s girlfriend lived. Espinoza told investigators he assumed something was going to happen to Matheu’s girlfriend, whom Matheu had shot at a few days earlier. Instead, Morua, a neighbor, confronted Matheu and accused him of selling drugs to Morua’s girlfriend, prosecutors said. LANCASTER – A reputed Antelope Valley gang member has been sentenced to eight years in prison in the slaying of a Lancaster parolee shot to death after an argument at his downtown home. Richard Garcia III, 25, of Lancaster pleaded no contest – the equivalent of a guilty plea but one that can’t be used against him in civil court – to being an accessory after prosecutors agreed to drop a murder charge. Garcia was accused of participating in the killing of 26-year-old Arthur Raymond Morua of Lancaster, who prosecutors said was shot by friend and fellow gang member Byron Matheu, now a fugitive. “Garcia saw his friend getting beat up and came in to aid him. It was difficult to prove that he aided and abetted in a murder,” Deputy District Attorney Benny Osorio said. “It was difficult to prove that Garcia foresaw Matheu shooting in this situation. It was an intervening act.” last_img read more