Gang member convicted of execution-style killings

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A jury in Newark, N.J., on Tuesday convicted former gang member Alexander Alfaro of murder in the 2007 schoolyard shooting of four college-bound students, authorities said.

Then 16 years old, Alfaro was one of six members of the so-called MS-13 gang accused of killing three of the students in August 2007. The fourth victim was wounded but survived.

All the victims were made to kneel and shot in the head and neck.

The jury in Superior Court deliberated four days before reaching a verdict, said Catherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office.

Alfaro was found guilty of the murders of all three victims. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment when he is sentenced on May 19, Carter said.

After the murders, Alfaro fled to Virginia, where he was arrested about two weeks later.

Three of the victims were going to or planning to attend Delaware State University. Two of the victims were male and two female, and the one who survived is female.

Publicity surrounding the gang slaying was credited with heightening awareness of Newark’s gun problem and prompted anti-violence efforts in the city.

Alfaro is the second man to stand trial. His half-brother, Rodolfo Godinez, was convicted last year and a third man, Melvin Jovel, pleaded guilty. They are serving life terms.

Three other men charged in the case are still awaiting trial.

(Reporting by Dave Warner and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

Gang member convicted of execution-style killings