A gang member who was 17 when he gunned down two men in City Heights received a decades-long sentence Friday.
Leiga Tauiliili, now 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges and gun-use allegations in connection with the 2015 shooting. A judge sentenced him to 40-years-to-life in prison.
Deon Peterson, 28, and Joseph Ponder, 26, both of Oceanside, died in the shooting, in the parking lot of a convenience store.
Peterson and Ponder were in San Diego to celebrate Halloween when they were shot on El Cajon Boulevard, near 52nd Street, according to Deputy District Attorney John Pro.
The men got into an argument over gang ties with a group of people outside the store. Tauliili approached them and opened fire as they stood outside their vehicle, Pro said.
Both men died, while a woman sitting inside their car was struck in the eye. That injury resulted in an additional mayhem charge against Tauliili. He received a concurrent four-year term on the count.
Investigators recognized Tauiliili from surveillance footage taken at the scene. Officers arrested him a few weeks later.
His case bounced between juvenile and adult court jurisdictions over the years. It was finally transferred and scheduled for a trial in adult court last year. He pleaded guilty to the charges last October.
– City News Service
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