L.A. Jury Deadlocks on Most Charges in Case of 3 Reputed MS-13 Gang Members Accused of Kidnapping, Rape and Killing of 13-Year-Old

A Los Angeles jury deadlocked on nearly all the counts in the case of three suspected Mara Salvatrucha gang members charged in the 2001 rape, kidnapping and killing of a teenage runaway from Whittier.

From left, Melvin Sandoval, sits alongside Rogelio Contreras and Santos Grimaldi during the closing arguments of their trial, where they stood accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a 13-year-old girl found shot to death in Elysian Park. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

From left, Melvin Sandoval, sits alongside Rogelio Contreras and Santos Grimaldi during the closing arguments of their trial, where they stood accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a 13-year-old girl found shot to death in Elysian Park. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Despite deliberating for nearly two weeks, the panel on Thursday told a judge they hadn’t reached a unanimous verdict regarding Melvin Sandoval, 38, and Santos Grimaldi, 35, who each faced one count of special circumstance murder along with one count of kidnapping in the killing of 13-year-old Jacqueline Piazza. The teenager ran away from home in May 2001 and ended up in the Westlake area of Los Angeles.

A third defendant, Rogelio Contreras, 40, was acquitted of a kidnapping charge, but jurors deadlocked on his murder count.

The judge asked jurors — who sat through a five-month trial — whether there was anything he could do to help them reach a verdict. He offered, for example, to let prosecutors and defense attorneys make further arguments.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.