There are thank you's and then there is the way that Sandra Balbuena thanked LAPD detectives for finding the men now charged with her father's murder. Her voice quivering, she told the media, she knows she can't have her father back but she's so grateful, detectives worked without a break to find her father's killers. Thursday, they arrested 18 year old Markell Thomas. Friday, they arrested 17-year-old Ryan Roth.
LAPD say Thomas placed a craigslist ad, offering a Samsung Galaxy cellphone. 41-year-old Rene Balbuena answered that ad and then made plans to meet the seller at 92nd and Gramercy in South Los Angeles. Detectives say, Balbuena texted the suspect to say he was at the meeting place. But then instead of a cellphone, Balbuena wound up with multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and his 15 year old son suffered a non-life threatening graze wound. Detective Chris Barling describes the scene this way; he says, Thomas jumped into the back passenger seat of Balbuena's car and pointed the gun at his son. Both, he and Roth "demanded property." The suspects got nothing. But, Roth allegedly shot the father dead before running away.
LAPD now says, Thomas used the Craigslist ploy, at least seven other times, starting in August. In those incidents, no one was hurt, but each time, victims answered an ad for a cellphone they were then robbed for hundreds of dollars. The two suspects were charged Monday with murder, attempted murder, robbery with special circumstances and gang enhancements. Thomas and Roth belong to the same Inglewood gang, but detectives say the Craigslist ploy was just one for Thomas to get quick cash. Meantime, Sandra says, that her brother has "gone through alot." But she is so grateful that she didn't lose him, along with her father, "her best friend."
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two reputed gang members were charged today with
murder and other counts stemming from the shooting death of a man who went to
South Los Angeles with his 15-year-old son to purchase a cellphone advertised
Ryan Roth, 17, and Markell Thomas, 18, were both charged with murder and
attempted murder, along with two counts each of second-degree robbery,
according to the District Attorney's Office. The murder charge includes a
special circumstances allegation that the killing was committed during a
robbery, making it a capital offense.