MONTECITO HEIGHTS, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Two people were charged with capital murder today in connection with the killings of a young woman and a teenage girl in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights.
Jose Antonio Echeverria, 18, and Dallas Stone Pineda, 17, are both scheduled to be arraigned sometime today in downtown Los Angeles. They are accused in the killings of Gabriela Calzada, 19, and Briana Gallegos, 17, in
Echeverria could face a potential death penalty, but Pineda cannot be sent to death row due to his age. Prosecutors will decide later whether to pursue the death penalty for Echeverria.
The criminal complaint alleges that both defendants fired a handgun during the killings. Police had not previously divulged a cause of death of the victims, saying only that their bodies showed signs of blunt-force trauma.
The victims' bodies were found at 2:20 p.m. Oct. 28, and their deaths were quickly classified as homicides. Briana was reported missing about 9 p.m. Oct. 28, roughly seven hours after the bodies were found.
The bodies were found near Mercury and Boundary avenues along a walking path through Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.
The criminal complaint alleges that the girls were killed on Oct. 27. Echeverria was also charged with attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, both allegedly committed on Jan. 29. Details of that
shooting were not immediately available. Echeverria was also charged with allegedly bringing contraband into the LAPD's Metropolitan Detention Center on Jan. 30.
Los Angeles police announced earlier today that an arrest had been made in the case, although no details were provided. Thirty minutes later, however, the LAPD retracted the announcement, and said the department could no longer confirm any arrests.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the case.
Gallegos was a Pico Rivera resident and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park. Friends said Calzada dreamed of being a wildland firefighter.
Their bodies were found by a woman walking her dog.