On the evening of Dec. 21, 2007, some Lexington teens entered the home of Julio Vargas-Torres, a friend and fellow gang member.
A high-level member of a Lexington incarnation of the Latin Kings gang, Vargas oversaw the group's younger gang members, the "Pee-Wees." He finished up a phone call and turned to them.
"I got the order. We have to take him out tonight," Vargas said.
Their target would be 19-year-old Luis "Loco" Quiroz, a fellow Latin King whose commitment to the gang had flagged considerably in their eyes.
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Hours later, Quiroz was found shot, his body slumped over the wheel of a car parked on Trailwood Lane. The engine revved as his foot leaned against the accelerator. He died later at University of Kentucky hospital.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Faulkner gave that account of events Tuesday during opening arguments in the murder complicity trial of Vargas and Matthew "King Red Dog" Robey.
Faulkner said the order to kill Quiroz came from Robey, 27, the gang's leader. Vargas communicated the order and supplied the handgun, he said.
Prosecutors contend both men are responsible for Quiroz's murder although they didn't pull the trigger.
The triggerman, Manny Erevia, who was then 15, pleaded guilty last month and agreed to a recommended 20-year sentence without probation.
He is one of five gang members expected to testify for prosecutors, who told Fayette Circuit Court jurors that they would hear through their testimony about the gang's initiation, command structure and expected code of conduct.
Jurors will also hear that Robey, originally from Chicago, was dismayed by the youthful "wannabes" he led and yearned to restore discipline and honor to his crew.
In Robey's eyes, Quiroz, who had stopped attending meetings and was dating a woman in a rival gang, could no longer be trusted, Faulkner said.
Faulkner said Erevia is expected to testify that Robey said, "I want you to take him out." Erevia feared for his family's safety as well as his own if he disobeyed, Faulkner said, so "he had no choice but to take him out."
Robey's attorney, Ben Cabuay, a public defender, told jurors his client may have ordered Quiroz to be beaten up or injured, but he never said "kill" him. Robey was far from a coldhearted gang leader; in fact, he wanted out of the gang, too, Cabuay said.
Londa J. Adkins, the public defender for Vargas, reminded jurors that all the gang members that prosecutors will call cut deals for lesser sentences.
She urged jurors to wait and "hear the rest of the story."
The trial is expected to continue into next week.