February 7, 2017: Trio Charged With Capital Murder For 1993 Apartment Fire That Killed 10
Two gang members and a woman were charged today with capital murder for a decades-old arson fire at a Westlake apartment building, killing seven children and three women, two of whom were pregnant, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Ramiro Valerio (dob 7/12/73), aka Greedy, Joseph Monge (dob 3/12/75), aka Droopy, and Johanna Lopez (dob 5/19/65) were each charged in case BA454331 with 12 counts of murder as well as the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder in the commission of an arson, making them eligible for the death penalty.
All three defendants are expected to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Deputy District Attorneys Victor Avila of the Major Crimes Division, Catherine Chon of the Organized Crimes Division and Adan Montalban of the Hardcore Gang Division are prosecuting the case.
On May 3, 1993, a blaze erupted at an apartment complex in the 300 block of Burlington Avenue, west of downtown. Prosecutors allege that the defendants grew upset when the apartment manager and others wanted to prevent drug deals in the building and caused the fire in retaliation.
As the manager was moving furniture into her second floor apartment, her mattress that was in the hallway was set on fire and smoke from the flames spread throughout the complex.
All of those who died from smoke inhalation were on the top floor. Dozens of others were injured.
Those who were killed include: Olga Leon, 24, and her three children, Rosia, 7, Jesus and Jose, both 4; Alejandrina Roblero, 29, and her three children, Leyver, 11, William and Yadira, both 6; and Rosalia Ruiz, 21, and Lancy Mateo, 1.
Leon and Ruiz were pregnant when they died.
If convicted as charged, the three defendants could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A decision on whether to seek capital punishment will be made at a later date.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.