A state appeals court panel this week upheld the convictions of two brothers for the September 2013 car-to-car shooting in Palmdale that fatally wounded a 7-year-old girl.
In a ruling Monday, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected a contention by attorneys for Jesus and Carlos Peralta that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the murder of Desirae Macias and the attempted murders of three other people in the car with her were willful, deliberate and premeditated.
The appellate court justices wrote in a 46-page ruling that the defendants knew there were other people in the vehicle and chose to pursue the car into a residential neighborhood after a confrontation with one of the car’s passengers at a Palmdale gas station shortly after midnight Sept. 4, 2013.
Jesus Peralta fired a series of shots while his brother continued to follow the vehicle, and then fired a second series of shots, the appeals court panel noted.
“All of this evidence supports the jury’s finding that defendants reflected before and during the undertaking of their crimes,” the appellate court justices wrote, noting that the two knew that their target victim was not the only person in the vehicle.
Jesus Peralta approached the boyfriend of the girl’s mother and asked him where he was from while they were at the gas station, and Carlos Peralta then raised his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in his waistband, according to testimony presented during the trial.
The man backed away from the two brothers and then pepper-sprayed them as they neared the vehicle, then called 911 as the vehicle was being chased and fired upon, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling. He didn’t discover that his girlfriend’s daughter had been shot in the head until he arrived home, he justices noted.
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy later stopped a vehicle matching one that was involved in the shooting, and the two brothers were arrested, authorities said.
The two were convicted of first-degree murder involving the 7-year-old girl, who died after being taken off life support four days later.
They were also found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle.
Jesus Peralta was sentenced in July 2015 to 125 years to life in state prison, while his younger brother was ordered to serve 46 years to life behind bars.