Two men were sentenced Friday to 55 years to life in prison for shooting a 9-year-old girl in the chest, killing her as she played with friends in front of her apartment complex in Anaheim, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Ximena Meza was shot in the chest by gang cross-fire in the the 2300 block of West Greenacre Avenue on Oct. 22, 2014. In May 2019, Alfredo Aquino, 24, of Anaheim and Ricardo Cruz, 23, of Buena Park were convicted of her murder.
A woman tried to resuscitate the 9-year-old moments after she was shot and the child’s father pleaded for her survival, according to witnesses.
“I see the dad holding the little girl and he was just screaming … begging to God that she’d live,” River Hernandez, a witness, told KTLA at the time.
Aquino and Cruz were found guilty last year of second-degree murder degree murder, street terrorism, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds.
They also received sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death by a gang member.
Meza was rushed to UCI Medical Center in critical condition but later died from her injuries.
Authorities have said the neighborhood where she lived and was killed was known to have gang activity and prosecutors have described the shooting as gang-related.