Fresno gang member flips on old friend in murder trial

A Fresno gang member who participated in a murder is now the key witness in the murder trial against one of his old friends.
January 22, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A Fresno gang member who participated in a murder is now the key witness in the murder trial against one of his old friends.

20-year-old Nath Ouch was eight months pregnant when she was shot and killed in Feb. 2006. Ten people have already been convicted for their roles in the murder.

Jose Angel Perez disappeared to Mexico right after the murder. Investigators stayed on the trail, though, because they say he was one of two men to pull the trigger in the shooting that killed Ouch. And five years later, they caught him.

Giant bullet holes in a school's fence tell the tale of a deadly confrontation.

Revenge was in the air when members of an Asian gang stood on the grounds of Easterby Elementary and took aim at an apartment complex across the street. One bullet from a semi-automatic rifle killed Nath Ouch and the unborn baby she'd carried for eight months. Investigators found shell casings from the rifle and from a .45.

Detectives learned the gang members were upset about recent attacks by another gang, and they decided to step up the violence.

Police identified Jose Angel Perez as one of the shooters. By the time his trial started this week, he'd aged from the kid in this mug shot to the man in the suit next to his defense attorney.

Prosecutors say Perez was an Asian gang member, but he escaped to Mexico after Ouch was killed. When he came back, a couple of his fellow gang members had turned state's evidence.

A judge won't let us show them in court, but police gave us a mugshot of Keo Som. He testified that the trouble all started when rival gang members attacked him at a club. It escalated from there, and Perez played an active role, volunteering to be a shooter.

Evidence markers on school grounds show how thorough the retaliation was, and how little chance ouch had to survive.

Perez's attorney, though, says Som and others are lying to keep their own prison sentences to a minimum. Som is now eight years into a 21-year sentence for manslaughter.

Prosecutors had to promise not to go after the death penalty to get Perez extradited from Mexico, so he faces life in prison if he's convicted.

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