Two Merced County gang members were sentenced Thursday to life without parole in state prison for a 2013 ambush killing of a gang rival, according to the Merced County District Attorney's Office.
The Winton gang members Arturo Morfin and Julian Luna, both 28, were convicted in November by a Merced County jury for their roles in the death on Dec. 23, 2013, of Francisco Pena, who was gunned down in an alleyway on Myrtle Avenue.
Pena, whose family has described him as a former gang member who was working to get his life straight, was “lured” to a parking lot on Myrtle Avenue the night he was ambushed and killed. Merced County sheriff’s detectives have said the slaying was part of a deadly split within one Winton-area street gang that triggered a series of brutal clashes during a violent struggle for power that peaked in December 2013.
Pena was shot at least three times as more than a dozen gunshots rained down, possibly from multiple shooters, including at least one man who was positioned on the roof of a nearby apartment when he opened fire down into the alley, authorities have said.
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At least four other men were involved in Pena’s death, including Luna’s brother, Fernando Luna, as well as Elias Vera and Ricardo Romo. All three of those defendants already have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.