DOWNTOWN L.A. — An imprisoned gang member will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of Michael and Anthony Juarez, two brothers who were gunned down in broad daylight while visiting their cousin’s clothing store on Lincoln Boulevard.
David Robles was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, said SMPD Detective Michael Bambrick.
Robles and his cousin, Jessie Garcia, were convicted last month on two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the deadly shooting at the Westside Clothing store on Oct. 27, 1998. Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced May 19. He too could receive life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors said Robles and Garcia, who were members of two local street gangs affiliated with the Mexican mafia, were out to settle a dispute over drugs and money when they and two other suspects shot and killed the Juarez brothers and wounded two others.
The shooting raised alarm in Santa Monica because of the extreme nature of the crime. The Juarez brothers, who were visiting from out of town, and the two who were wounded were described by police as innocent victims who had no ties to gangs.
Bambrick, who took over the case in December 2004 after the previous lead detective retired, said eye witness testimony along with DNA evidence collected from a ski mask left at the scene of the murders were key pieces in the prosecution’s case.
Bambrick said Robles acted as the getaway driver and was positively identified by witnesses. Garcia dropped his mask in the store and was also identified by witnesses.
Using DNA evidence collected from the mask, Bambrick said detectives were able to link Garcia and Robles, who were roommates at the time, to the crime scene. The two other shooters were never identified. Bambrick continues to investigate in hopes of locating the suspects.
At the time that murder charges were filed, Robles, also known as “Puppet,” was serving an eight-year sentence in Corcoran State Prison. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in February 2001. Garcia, also known as “Psycho,” was convicted of carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon with a firearm causing great bodily injury in May 1999. He was serving a 15-year sentence.