K. Mennem 6:15 p.m., May 21
Juan Alberto Rocha Jr., now 21, was sentenced this morning to 15-years-to-life for his part in a gang stabbing that killed a man, more than a year ago. His two-week trial finished last summer.
Rocha was reportedly part of a group of men who confronted several persons leaving a popular nightspot in Carlsbad after 10 p.m. on March 25, 2011.
Witnesses reported hearing a man yell, “You’re in the wrong town! Carlos Malos!” just before one man got a single stab to his abdomen. Both the victim and his alleged attackers were seen inside Hensley’s Flying Elephant Pub, earlier.
The wounded man, Devin Allen, 27, was declared dead about an hour later.
Rocha and other persons allegedly involved in the attack fled the scene that night. Rocha was first identified as a suspect by Carlsbad Police after reviewing surveillance video from the bar. The fugitive was reportedly tracked by his cell phone use and captured by U.S. Marshals on a bus to Ohio, four days later.
Rocha is a “documented VCLS gang member” who “goes by the name of Buddy,” according to Carlsbad Police Detective Bryan Hargett. The gang, Vario Carlsbad Locos, is mostly male and Hispanic and has “been around for generations” according to the detective.
Prosecutor Geoff Allard, who specializes in gang cases, suggested to the jury that the attack was racially motivated. The prosecutor told the jury there was gang graffiti which read “FUCK NIGGERS” spray painted in the same area and signed “Carlsbad 13;” this was said to be documented in October 2011.
The prosecutor also made an unusual admission to the jury – he said that defendant Rocha “almost certainly” was not the one who actually stabbed the victim; instead the prosecutor admitted that another fugitive named Pedro Avalos, now 23, was probably the one who actually wielded the knife. But the prosecutor insisted that Rocha should still to be held accountable, since he was part of a gang attack which ended in death.
The jury deliberated three full days before pronouncing Rocha guilty of second-degree murder, on August 2, 2012.
Juan Alberto Rocha Jr., was sentenced by the same judge who heard the trial, Honorable Runston Maino, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.