Corona, CA: Ex-Con Convicted of Killing 20-Year-Old Repo Man in Ambush

An ex-con who gunned down a 20-year-old man for stepping onto his property during an attempted car repossession more than two decades ago was convicted today of first-degree murder and other charges.

Anthony Varela Corrales, 51, could be sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for the Feb. 3, 1989, slaying of Robert Hensley.

A Corona jury deliberated less than three hours before convicting Corrales of the murder count as well as a sentence-enhancing gun allegation.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Helgesen set a June 24 sentencing date for Corrales, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

The defendant was first charged in the case two months after Hensley's death. The murder count was dropped because eyewitnesses refused to cooperate, according to the District Attorney's Office, and Corrales and his then-co- defendant, Christopher Powers, were convicted of weapons charges and served a few years in state prison.

In the latest trial, Deputy District Attorney Laura Ozols told jurors that the defendant confessed to a neighbor, Rita Ramirez, that he had shot Hensley, but threatened to kill her if she revealed his secret.

A friend of the defendant, Archie Yates, told Riverside police investigators that Corrales had also confided to him that he had shot Hensley, according to the prosecutor.

Hensley's close friend, Ron Faria, testified Monday that he and the victim had gone out the night of the shooting scouting for "20 or 30" vehicles whose owners had defaulted on their auto loans.

The repo men went to the Corrales home at 10293 Selkirk Ave., near Tyler Street, because Faria suspected a white Mitsubishi truck being sought by his then-employer, Southern California Auto Recovery, was parked there.

According to testimony, the pickup belonged to Corrales' neighbor.

Faria testified that he could not take the vehicle because it was wedged between two cars parked in the defendant's yard. He said Hensley acted as a lookout as he verified the truck's vehicle identification number. The friends were walking away, about two houses down the block, when Corrales opened fire.

"Everything was dark. I was completely surprised," Faria said. "We saw no one. We were walking down the sidewalk, and I heard a male voice yell out, 'I got you, (expletive)!' And there was a gunshot. It was loud."

Hensley was shot in the back and head with a 12-gauge pump shotgun. He died at a hospital moments later.

Corrales' attorney, Ruby Ramirez, argued that Powers was the triggerman.

When Powers was arrested the day after Hensley's murder, he had gunshot residue on his hands -- a telltale sign of holding or being in close proximity to a firearm that was discharged, Ramirez said.

Powers has since died.

The murder was largely forgotten until the victim's mother, Rosemary Utesch, began making calls to the D.A.'s office, pleading for the case to looked at one more time. She told City News Service last August that her requests were dismissed for years, but that in 2009, Ozols listened to her story and promised to re-examine the two-decade-old case.

Last July 14 -- just as Corrales was due to be released from prison on an unrelated conviction -- the D.A.'s office filed charges against him.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Mira Loma never had this many problems until Eastvale was built. A once housing community turned township is now a murder/homicide dumping post. Eastvale has turned West Riverside County into nothing but a high cost ghetto.