Fayette County

Two plead guilty in slaying of gang member

Two teens pleaded guilty Tuesday for their parts in the murder of a fellow gang member in 2007.

Manny Erevia, 16, and José Cruz, 17, entered guilty pleas and agreed to testify at the trials of two men described as leaders of a local Latin Kings gang.

The pleas were the latest for Fayette County prosecutors who have now netted seven convictions and agreements to testify from men who were present at the killing the night of Dec. 21, 2007. Luis "Mad Dog" Quiroz, 19, was found shot in a car on Trailwood Lane, in a suburban development off Alexandria Drive.

The men are expected to testify at the March 10 trial of Julio Vargas-Torres, 18, and Matthew "King Red Dog" Robey, 27. Police have said the killing was attributed to an "internal issue" in the gang.

In court on Tuesday, Erevia admitted that he was the one who shot Quiroz. He said he called the victim, met him and said they were going to go commit a robbery, which was a lie.

Instead they went to Trailwood Lane, where Erevia called several of the other men, who arrived in another vehicle.

Then, Erevia said, he got out of his car, walked around to Quiroz's side, said a few words and then fired a 9mm handgun at Quiroz's head. Erevia took off in the other vehicle. Quiroz died at University of Kentucky Hospital.

Erevia said in court that Robey instructed him to kill Quiroz, and because Robey was at a higher rank within the Latin Kings, "I had to comply with his orders."

He also said that Vargas-Torres supplied him with the gun. Prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence without probation.

Cruz pleaded guilty to complicity to commit murder for placing the handgun in the car.

Under the deal with Cruz, prosecutors recommended a five-year sentence and dismissal of an evidence tampering charge.

Judge Ernesto Scorsone scheduled sentencing for both men April 2, after the trial.

Cruz's attorney, Sally Wasielewski, described her client as a "good kid" despite his conviction. He had attended Lafayette High School before his arrest.

"He just got caught up in the glitz and glamor" of gang life, she said. "He's sorry he ever heard of the Latin Kings. As far as I'm concerned, the adult who ordered this is the one who should be strung up by his ears."

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