SANTA ANA – A La Habra gang member goes on trial on a murder charge Tuesday in the stabbing death of rival gang member more than 15 years ago after he was initially arrested.
Joe Luis Garay, Jr., now 26, was charged in 1996 along with co-defendant Kevin Jerome Carlson, 38, of Chino Hills in connection with the slaying of Troy Gorena, 16, who was stabbed to death March 5, 1996, as he stood outside his girlfriend’s house. But those charges were later dismissed for insufficient evidence and the case went cold.
Fullerton police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office reopened the case in 2008 and developed new information that resulted in the arrests of Garay and Carlson, Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.
Carlson pleaded guilty in July 2010 to aggravated assault. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison at a hearing in September and is expected to testify in Garay’s trial.
Garay is accused of driving in a car with Carlson about 8 p.m. March 5, 1996, looking for a rival gang member to assault, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. They saw Troy Gorena, who was waiting outside his girlfriend’s home in Fullerton while she was inside getting money from her mother to go to a market, prosecutors said.
The two got out of their car and punched and stabbed Gorena multiple times, Yellin said. Gorena’s girlfriend’s mother heard screaming from outside and called 911, but his assailants were gone by the time police arrived. Gorena died as he was being transported to a hospital by paramedics.
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By LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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