DA’s office mum on second suspect, a juvenile
One of two suspects arrested in connection with a double-fatal shooting in Newhall on Saturday has pleaded not guilty to two murder charges in the case, according to the L.A. County Superior Court.
Anthony Martinezortiz, 18, of Sylmar, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of murder over a shooting that detectives with the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau have alleged is gang-related.
Officials with the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office have not responded to requests for comment or information on those charges, or on the status of the other suspect in the shooting, who is a juvenile.
“We actually arrested two, one’s a juvenile so I can’t release his name,” Lt. Hugo Reynaga of the Homicide Bureau said Monday evening in a phone interview, noting Martinezortiz, who’s due back in court April 21, recently turned 18.
Brian Chevez, 25, and Cameron Stokes, 16, were shot in the upper torso around 10:50 a.m. near the pool at The Village Apartments on Valle Del Oro in Newhall, according to previous reporting in The Signal.
Reynaga said the victims were believed to be associated with a gang that claimed the territory where the shooting took place, and the suspects claimed a rival territory.
The Signal also has learned the juvenile suspect was previously identified as a suspect in a gun-possession case, but the charges were dropped because of his age, according to a Sheriff’s Department official who was not authorized to discuss the details of the investigation.
The DA’s Office has not indicated what, if any, charges will be filed against the juvenile suspect Reynaga referred to, a decision that could be impacted by a series of controversial special directives District Attorney George Gascón has announced regarding juvenile prosecutions.
A source familiar with the case told The Signal that the juvenile suspect is being held on a probation violation but has yet to be charged by the District Attorney’s Office, and the DA’s office is pressing the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau for “more investigation.”
In December 2020, Gascón announced Special Directive 20-09, which calls for his office to take “the lightest touch” when it comes to juvenile offenders. The directive entails a series of prosecutorial policies that have angered his rank-and-file to the point that more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed over them.
The policies appear to exclude the most serious offenses:
“Youth accused of misdemeanors will not be prosecuted,” according to the policy. “If deemed necessary and appropriate, youth accused of misdemeanor offenses and low-level felonies will be referred to pre-filing, community-based diversion programs.
“Filing deputies are instructed to NOT file any potential strike offense if the offender is 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the offense,” the directive notes. “The only exception to this policy shall be charges involving forcible rape and murder.”
The policy also states, “Enhancements shall not be filed on youth petitions consistent with the office wide directives on ending enhancement filings,” a policy that multiple prosecutors have mentioned in their lawsuits as forcing them to file false narratives with the court.
Representatives for Gascon’s Media Relations Unit have not answered multiple requests for information regarding what charges the juvenile suspect should face, charges that are publicly disclosable in accordance with Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b) in state law.
Martinezortiz is scheduled to be formally arraigned next month in San Fernando, according to court records available online. He’s being held in lieu of $2 million bail.