An Arleta man faces life in prison after he was convicted Wednesday of two fatal stabbings that took place during two separate house parties in Pacoima and South Los Angeles in 2016, authorities said.
A jury found Jesse Alexander Cardoza, 21, guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The jury also found true the special circumstances of multiple murders and personal use of a knife.
Cardoza is expected to receive life in state prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to the Compton branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on Feb. 26, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
The special circumstance of multiple murders made Cardoza eligible for capital punishment, but prosecutors did not purse the death penalty in the case, Santiago said.
Two co-defendants have already been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the attacks.
Brandon Corona, 20, of North Hills and Angel Andres Quezada, 20, of Los Angeles each pleaded no contest to a single count of assault with a deadly weapon in 2018, prosecutors said.
Murder charges against Corona and Quezada were dismissed, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. Corona was sentenced to six years in prison, while Quezada received an eight-year prison term.
The first killing took place on Sept. 24, 2016, as a party was winding down in South Los Angeles, authorities said.
Cardoza, Corona and Quezada got into a confrontation with 18-year-old Martin Kennedy Jr. of Carson, according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials.
“During the confrontation, Cardoza stabbed Kennedy in the head and back, killing him,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a written statement.
The second murder took place just over a month later on Oct. 29, 2016, as a house party was shutting down in Pacoima, prosecutors said.
Victor Ernesto Garcia Navarro, 22, of El Monte was killed in the stabbing, Coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“(Garcia Navarro) was trying to help people disperse and diffuse tensions among other party-goers when the defendant stabbed him in the neck, unprovoked,” according to the District Attorney’s Office statement.
“This attack occurred within a few hours of Cardoza smashing a champagne bottle on another victim at another party in a case that was prosecuted separately,” the statement added.
Officers from a Los Angeles Police Department fugitive apprehension task force arrested Cardoza on Nov. 29, 2016, records show.