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Veronica PAZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Love triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 10, 2003
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: 1982
Victim profile: Diego Armando Gonzalez, 17 (her former boyfriend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Orange County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25-years-to-life term in prison on December 14, 2006. Sentence overturned in 2008. Resentenced to 15-year-to-life term in prison on February 10, 2011
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 

The Court of Appeal of the State of California

The People v. Veronica Paz
 
 
 
 

Woman pleads guilty in love-triangle murder

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

February 11, 2011

SANTA ANA In a voice that was barely audible, a Garden Grove woman pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder for her role in the love-triangle ambush shooting death of her former boyfriend, a champion high school wrestler.

Veronica Paz, 28, was then sentenced to 15-year-to-life term in prison by Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler for her role in the Nov. 10, 2003, slaying of Diego Armando Gonzales, 17.

Gonzalez was a co-captain of the El Modena High School wrestling team when he was shot in the face, then his body set on fire and abandoned on a hilltop at a home construction site in Orange Park Acres.

Before she pleaded guilty, Paz turned in her chair at the counsel table and told Gonzalez' mother, father, sisters and brothers: "I am really sorry. I never thought this would happen. I didn't want him to die.

"I hope some day you can find in your hearts to forgive me," she added with tears brimming in her eyes.

Stotler accepted Paz's guilty plea after he listened to impact statements from Gonzalez's family, who wept in the ninth-floor courtroom during the 30-minute hearing.

"That woman is a criminal murderer who killed my son," Maria Sanchez Gonzalez, Diego's mother, said through an interpreter. "I miss my son a lot. That woman should not be released."

Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy contended during Paz's 2006 trial that she plotted with her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Brandan Dante Perry to murder Gonzalez out of jealousy, anger and revenge.

Paz, a slender, dark-haired grocery clerk, wanted Gonzalez dead because she was angry that he was dating someone else but was still calling her from time to time for sex, McGreevy argued.

She initially faced a possible life term in prison without the possibility of parole when she was arrested and charged in 2003 with committing Gonzalez's murder during the special circumstance of lying-in-wait.

Jurors in Paz's trial in 2006 convicted her of first-degree murder but decided that the special-circumstance allegation was not true, providing her with a chance at parole.

The first-degree murder was overturned in 2008 by the 4th District Court of Appeal, who ruled that her jury was given erroneous instructions. That finding sent Paz back to Orange County Superior Court for a retrial.

She pleaded guilty Thursday, three days before jury selection was scheduled to begin for what would have been her second trial.

Paz will now be eligible for parole consideration in about 2018.

Perry, a former star football player at Santiago High School, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2005 for his role in the murder and is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence.

He escaped a potential life-without-parole sentence by pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against Paz that they both plotted to kill Gonzalez.

Perry told the jury that Paz lured Gonzalez to an isolated construction site in Orange Park Acres with a promise of sex, while he waited in the darkness with a handgun.

He testified that Paz was making out with Gonzalez in the back seat of her car when he ran up, dragged Gonzalez out of the car at the point of the gun, shot him twice in the face.

"He took a step forward," Perry testified. "I shot him."

Perry said that he and Paz then recruited several friends to help destroy evidence by setting Gonzalez's body on fire and in providing them with an alibi.

Two of those friends, Tommy Medina, 24, and Kimberly Gomez, 24, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact and were given short sentences in county jail.

Arthur Gomez, 20, also pleaded guilty to accessory and was sentenced to the California Youth Authority.

Paz later told Sheriff's Department investigators when she was interviewed that she intentionally took Gonzalez to the construction site because she felt Gonzalez had been "playing me" as he tried to get back with a former girlfriend.

Defense attorney William Kelley, who represented Paz during her 2006 trial, argued that Paz believed she was setting up Gonzalez to be beaten, not murdered.

 
 

Woman gets life for love-triangle murder

Veronica Paz was convicted of first-degree murder for luring a high school wrestler to his death

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

Friday, December 15, 2006

A weeping father told a judge today that his murdered son a champion high school wrestler was a good person who loved sports, his family and friends, and always thought he would be around to help his mother.

"I miss my son very much and I will never see him again," Felix Gonzalez said. "I want this criminal to receive the full weight of the law."

Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler complied.

He sentenced Veronica Paz, 24, to the maximum penalty of 25 years to life on her first-degree murder conviction for luring Diego Gonzalez, 17, to an isolated construction site in Orange, where he was shot to death in October 2003 by her longtime boyfriend.

Paz, who also briefly dated Diego Gonzalez, sat stiffly at a counsel table, her eyes misting with tears.

Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy contended that Paz and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Brandan Dante Perry, 23, plotted Gonzalez's death out of jealousy, anger and revenge.

Perry pleaded guilty to first-degree murder earlier this year and agreed to testify against Paz. He also received a 25-years-to-life term in prison in September.

 
 

Guilty verdict in love-triangle killing

Veronica Paz is convicted of first-degree murder in the death of her 17-year-old former beau. She faces a mandatory 25 years to life.

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Maria Sanchez Gonzalez clutched a tissue as she sat in a courtroom gallery Monday surrounded by her two daughters, two remaining sons and several other relatives. She strained to hear the reading of the verdict.

Veronica Paz, the young woman who once dated Sanchez Gonzalez's 17-year-old son, sat rigidly at the counsel table a few feet away as she too waited for the word on her fate.

Both women remained wide-eyed and motionless moments later when court clerk Suyin Young revealed the jury's decision:

Paz was guilty of first-degree murder for her role in luring Diego Gonzalez, a 17-year-old champion high school wrestler, to an ambush by her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend on Nov. 10, 2003.

But the seven-man, five-woman also decided that the special-circumstance allegation that Paz was "lying in wait" to commit murder was not true.

That finding saved Paz, 24, of Garden Grove, from a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler will now impose a mandatory 25-years-to-life sentence on Dec. 1. Paz will be eligible for parole after 18 years.

That is the same sentence that Brandan Dante Perry, Paz's boyfriend since junior high school, was promised in March after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and agreed to testify against his former love.

However, Perry's performance on the witness stand caused jurors to question whether Paz intended to have Gonzalez killed when she enticed him to an isolated home construction site in Orange Park Acres with a promise of sex.

Perry testified that he waited by prior agreement with Paz at the construction site so he could surprise Gonzalez with a handgun. He said he dragged Gonzalez out of the car, shot him twice in the face and then tried to set the body on fire to cover up evidence.

Juror Jeremy Gorr, 34, of Laguna Beach said later that he and other jurors felt that Perry "lied in almost every statement he made."

The deliberations then centered on whether Paz had "murderous intent" when she brought Gonzalez to the spot where he was killed, knowing that Perry was there waiting, Gorr said.

"We knew that she at least wanted Diego to be beaten," Gorr said. "But we had no corroboration that she wanted him killed, other than from Brandan."

He added: "It was frustrating. We all believe she should get the longest possible time. I'm very sorry for Diego's family that we couldn't reach that level."

Juror Rich Adler, 59, of Orange, agreed. He said that deciding Paz was guilty of first-degree murder was easy, especially after jurors watched videotapes of four interviews Paz gave to Orange County sheriff's investigators before she was arrested.

In the fourth interview, Paz said she intentionally brought Gonzalez to the construction site knowing Perry waited with a gun because she felt that Gonzalez was "playing me" as he tried to get back together with a former girlfriend.

Several jurors hugged each other as they left the 11th-floor courtroom after three days of deliberations following the three-week trial.

Sanchez Gonzalez, who listened to almost every minute of testimony even though she does not speak English, said later through an interpreter that she was grateful that Paz was found guilty.

But she said she was sad Paz will have a chance for parole.

"She still has her life, but my son is never coming home," Sanchez Gonzalez said. "She should never have the chance to get out. Never."

 
 

Timeline

Mid-1990s: Brandan Dante Perry and Veronica Paz meet while both are attending Portola Middle School. The couple begins to date, starting an on-again, off-again romance that would last for years.

Late 1990s: Perry becomes a star running back for the Santiago High School football team until his senior year, when he is ruled ineligible because of poor grades.

Summer 2003: While still having a relationship with Perry, Paz begins dating Diego Gonzalez, a CIF champion wrestler at El Modena High School, after meeting him at the Stater Bros. supermarket in Orange where they both worked. Gonzalez reportedly breaks off the relationship in September, but still calls Paz on occasions for sex.

August 2003: Perry confronts Gonzalez at a party when he sees him with Paz. But Perry is chased off when one of Gonzalez's friends or relatives brandishes a gun.

Nov. 9-10, 2003: Paz brings Gonzalez to an isolated home construction site at Orange Park Acres, and they start making out in the back seat of the car. Perry drives up shortly after midnight, forces Gonzalez out of the car and shoots him twice.

Nov. 12-13, 2003: Orange County sheriff's investigators question and arrest Perry and Paz after learning about the love triangle.

March 28, 2006: Perry pleads guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a promise of a life with parole eligibility if he testifies truthfully against Paz.

July 31, 2006: Jury selection begins in Paz's murder trial.

Aug. 28, 2006: Paz is convicted of first-degree murder.

Larry Welborn, The Orange County Register

 

 

 
 
 
 
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