LONG BEACH — A new jury has been tasked with deciding if a Long Beach mother is guilty of murder for the 2007 stabbing death of her son's 13-year-old gang rival.

Defendant Eva Daley was convicted in 2008 of second-degree murder for the slaying of Jose Cano, but an appellate court overruled that conviction two years later, citing an "impermissibly ambiguous" jury instruction in the 2-1 ruling.

Since then, Daley has remained in custody as she awaited her second trial, which began Monday with jury selection and opening statements at the Long Beach Superior Court.

Deputy District Attorney Dean Bengston told the jury Daley wasn't the person who plunged the knife into Jose Cano more than five years ago, "(But) she permitted that to happen by being the driver and the instigator in that murder."

FILE PHOTO: Eva Daley sits in court as she is sentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder for driving her son and six of his friends to a park
FILE PHOTO: Eva Daley sits in court as she is sentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder for driving her son and six of his friends to a park to kill her son's rival. (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

Daley's attorney, Javier Ramirez, insisted his client had no idea what her sons and his friends were about to do when she gave them rides home the night of the killing. He also told jurors that Bengston's claim that Daley's son, and the victim, were members of rival gangs wasn't true.

"(The Long Beach Police Department), at that time, did not recognize them as a gang," the court-appointed defense lawyer said. "They were a tagging crew."

Both groups, Ramirez said, focused on tagging and graffiti, not gang-banging.

"Like 'Our Gang.' They were just a bunch of kids who would run around and they had a little mischief," the defense lawyer said.


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Cano was killed on June 25, 2007, when he was jumped by seven members of a gang that he had once belonged to, but left for a rival group. The attackers included Daley's son, who was 14 at the time, and six other boys.

Cano was beaten with sticks and bats and stabbed, Bengston said.

The attack followed an incident at Daley's home earlier in the day, where members of Cano's gang allegedly threw road flares at the defendant's back door in a sign of disrespect, the prosecutor said.

Daley, he said, told her son to round up the members of his gang. By the time they all gathered at her home, the rivals had left, so she and the boys headed out looking for them, Bengston said.

The killer who wielded the knife was Heriberto Garcia, then 15 years old, Bengston said.

He was the only one of seven youths arrested for the slaying who was tried as an adult alongside Daley in the first trial. Garcia was also found guilty of second-degree murder and has lost two appeals.

He is serving a 15-year-to-life prison term, court records show.

Though Daley insisted in the first trial that she was giving her son's friends rides home and had no idea what they were about to do when they leaped from her white Chevy Tahoe as she drove near 14 th Street and Pine Avenue, Bengston said the one witness to the slaying with no tie to either gang disputes her claims.

That man, Bengston said, will tell the jury he saw the SUV stop near the alley and half a dozen or more people wearing white T-shirts jump out and run toward the park. Moments later he saw those people running back to the Chevy and "he sees a female come back first ... and yell out 'hurry up, hurry up,'" the prosecutor told jurors.

"Then he hears someone saying, 'We slashed him good,'" Bengston said.

"Of course, if she was just driving them home ... she'd go to the police afterward," the DA added. "But that doesn't happen."

Ramirez said there was no disagreement that Cano was killed, but he insisted his client - a mother of three children - was merely being over-protective when she decided to give her son's friends rides home after that attack at her home and seeing the police helicopter scouring the neighborhood.

"She's kind of over-protective," Ramirez said. "(her son) had himself been stabbed."

As she drove, Ramirez said, the boys yelled out for her to stop and several of them jumped from her SUV, forcing her to pull over. She then ran after her son to stop him. She was unaware of what the boys had planned until it was too late, Ramirez said.

"She was mad when they came back, she was mad when she saw blood on Aztec's hands," Ramirez said, referring to Garcia by his gang moniker.

"Yes she took the kids home afterwards, she didn't know someone had died. She didn't know until two days later."

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1261, twitter.com/tmanzer