LA jury convicts gang member in racist killing

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A Los Angeles jury Thursday convicted a 22-year-old Latino gang member in the racially motivated killing of a black girl in 2006.

The killing happened in the Harbor Gateway neighborhood tucked along the 110 Freeway between Torrance and Carson.

Prosecutors said the 204th Street gang that had long controlled the area didn’t like the way African-Americans were moving in. They said that’s what motivated Jonathan Fajardo to shoot 14-year-old Cheryl Green to death as she hung out with friends a block from her home.

"All black people are their enemies,'' Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Ford told jurors in her closing argument. "Really innocent people could die for no reason other than the ridiculous ideas of this gang.''

Fajardo's attorney Thomas White disputed the allegation that the shooting was a hate crime. "It was an accident that rose of fear and anger,'' he said. "This was a rash impulse.''

The killing attracted national attention and a visit by the head of the F.B.I. Police say they’ve wiped out the relatively small gang in a massive crackdown.

The jury also convicted Daniel Aguilar, 23, who helped Fajardo stab to death a man they suspected had talked to police about the murder.

Now jurors must decide whether to recommend life in prison or the death penalty for the two.

KPCC wires contributed to this report