2 plead guilty in Christmas 2017 murder
VENTURA — Two men have pled guilty to second-degree murder of Joseph Cruz, of Ventura, on Christmas Day in 2017.
Jose Acevedo and Andy Diaz — both 21 and from Ventura — admitted to using knives in the killing that was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Mr. Acevedo, Mr. Diaz and a third man spotted Mr. Cruz on Dec. 25, 2017 in a Ventura parking garage and pursued him, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Video surveillance showed the three attack Mr. Cruz, who sustained 14 stab wounds.
“Gang violence is a grave threat to public safety,” District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said. “Depending on the circumstances, we will continue to seek transfer of juvenile offenders and prosecute gang and weapon enhancements to protect our communities.”
Both Mr. Acevedo and Mr. Diaz were under 18 at the time of the murder. The case was transferred to adult court from juvenile court — where they would have been eligible for release from prison when they turned 25 — in 2019.
Mr. Acevedo and Mr. Diaz are expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on June 30 at the Ventura County Superior Court in Ventura.
— Kaitlyn Schallhorn