A drug dealer for the Mara Salvatrucha street gang was found guilty Thursday of murdering a 13-year-old runaway whose nude body was found by a hiker in Elysian Park in 2001.
A jury convicted Jorge Palacios, 39, of special circumstance murder and one count of kidnapping to commit another crime. The jury also found gun and gang allegations to be true.
Three other reputed MS-13 gang members — Melvin Sandoval, 38, Santos Grimaldi, 35, and Rogelio Contreras, 40 — are also on trial in the teenager’s killing, and a separate jury is hearing closing arguments in the case.
On the night of June 27, 2001, prosecutors said that Palacios and his common law wife at the time beat Jacqueline Piazza near West 8th Street and Magnolia Avenue in Westlake. Palacios then directed other gang members to “get rid of” the girl because she was a threat, according to court testimony.
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