LONG BEACH -- Trial opened Monday for a Long Beach mom accused of murder for her role in the stabbing death a 13-year-old boy who was a bitter gang rival of her son.
Eva Daley is facing her third trial on the charge. She was convicted in her first trial as a co-defendant with the assailant. That conviction was overturned because of "impermissibly vague" jury instructions. A second trial, last year, ended in a deadlock.
This much is undisputed. On June 25, 13-year-old Jose Cano was beaten and stabbed to death near 14th Street Park and Pine Avenue by a group of teen-aged boys from a rival gang. Heriberto Garcia was tried and convicted as an adult and sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison. His conviction was upheld.
The other boys involved in the attack were all tried as juveniles.
In opening arguments Monday, the prosecution and defense painted divergent portraits of Daley.
Deputy District Attorney Dean Bengston described Daley as a woman deeply enmeshed in the gang culture due in part to the involvement of her son, Mauricio Rivera. Bengston says Daley had been taunted and possibly threatened by gang rivals of her son earlier in the day Cano died. He said she rounded up boys in her son's gang and later took the boys out hunting for gang rivals until Cano and several companions were spotted. It was then, Bengston said, that Daley stopped the car and sent a group of about eight boys out to exact revenge.
"She was a fork, and she chose the fork that led to Jose Cano's death," Bengston said. After the attack, Benston said Daley served as getaway driver. And even after she was arrested, Bengston said from jail she had worked to cover up the crime.
Javier Ramirez, Daley's attorney, by contrast said his client was a hardworking mother who did all she could to keep her eldest son out of the gang life while also raising two younger children.
"She tried everything to keep him from being involved," Ramirez said. "She tries the police, tries to keep him in school, to get on the right path. She thought he was on the right path. "
In Ramirez' version of the attack, Daley was simply driving the boys to their homes, rather than letting them walk dangerous streets at night, when she was suddenly told to stop and the boys piled out of the car. He said she had no idea what the boys were going to do, and what probably started out as a simple fistfight ended with deadly consequences.
"She was trying the best she can to keep her son out of trouble," Ramirez said. "Her dedication to him causes her to do things most of us wouldn't do. "
Afte the opening statements, the attorneys questioned witnesses, several of them reluctant, about their memories of the fateful day and encounter between Cano and his assailants.
Testimony continues today and is expected to last through much of the week.