Ventura Gang Member Convicted of Robbery/Assault at Grant Park

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UPDATE:  A jury on Tuesday found Maximiliano "Max" Ledezma  guilty of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the 2011 robbery and assault during an incident near the Cross at Grant Park.

Jurors also found that Ledezma that used a weapon while committing the gang-related crime.

Prosecutor Anthony Sabo said in an interview today that Ledezma is facing 33 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

The incident took place on May 27,2011 at about 6:45 p.m., and Ledezma, 23, was arrested on June 23, 2011.

Ledezma approached Ricky Garcia and demanded his backpack but was told that he couldn't have it, according to court testimony.  Ledezma  pulled out a gun and fired once, struck Chase Christiansen with the gun butt in the forehead and left with the backpack, according to court testimony.

Garcia, Christiansen and others were in the park inside a vehicle smoking marijuana or had been drinking alcohol, according to court testimony,. 

According to Sabo, the strongest evidence against Ledezma was a 14-second video recording by Jacqueline Ayala, who was in the backseat of the vehicle, showing  Ledezma's chin and neck.  Sabo said that from this 14-second piece of evidence that gang-unit Detective Todd Hourigan did a "fantastic job" in trying to match the neck and chin with several gang members and coming up with Ledezma.

Hourigan, a gang expert, then showed Christiansen a six-photo-lineup and Christiansen was able to pick out Ledezma and testified in court that he was positive that Ledezma was the assailant.

During closing arguments, Ledezma's lawyer Claudia Bautista cautioned jurors against drawing conclusions solely on eyewitness testimony.

Right after the robbery, Sabo told jurors that the backpack was found during a traffic stop by police with known gang members inside the vehicle who Ledezma knew.   Ledezma, however,  wasn't in this vehicle, said Sabo.

Sabo said the "fatty deposit" on the chin and "cleft chin" matches Ledezma's chin; Bautista countered that nobody said anything on the stand about a "fatty deposit" or cleft chin up until Sabo brought it up during closing arguments.

Bautista put up images of famous celebrity chins, asking jurors if they knew who these men where before revealing their identity.

Hourigan who is a gang expert testified there are 250 members of the Ventura Avenue criminal street gang, and the city only has two officer, including himself, in the gang unit.

In an interview, Sabo said Hourigan is a busy gang officer.

"It's the most active gang in the city of Ventura," said Sabo.

 

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The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at rhernandez@vcstar.com.