OC Murder Conviction Tossed Over Evidence Issues

ORANGE COUNTY (AP) — An Orange County judge has tossed a murder conviction because evidence from a jail informant wasn’t turned over to the defense.

Leonel Vega got life four years ago for the gang murder of Giovanni Onofre and was sentenced to life in prison.

The judge now says Vega must be retried.

Some prosecution evidence came from several jailhouse informants, including Oscar Moriel. He provided information against Scott Dekraai, who pleaded guilty last month to killing eight people at a Seal Beach hair salon. Dekraai’s lawyers argue that authorities improperly recorded and concealed jailhouse informant evidence.

The Los Angeles Times says during one Dekraai hearing, it was revealed that Moriel’s testimony yielded some 300 pages of notes but Vega’s attorneys only got four pages.

Prosecutors Monday asked a judge to vacate Vega’s conviction and sentence but they plan to retry him.

Vega’s attorney Todd Melnik says he believes other convictions could be vacated.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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