April 29, 2014

Fort Worth gang member gets 10 years for role in slayings

Gabriel “Lil Shadow” Cerda, 20, pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and was sentenced to prison for his role in a double murder.

A Fort Worth gangster pleaded guilty to engaging in organized crime and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday, according to court records.

Gabriel “Lil Shadow” Cerda, 20, was accused in connection with the gang-related double slaying of Fabian Guerrero and Diane Guerra, who were killed in a barrage of gunfire on May 20, 2012, while traveling in a vehicle along a south Fort Worth freeway.

Two others in their vehicle were shot but survived. A fifth occupant wasn’t injured. On the night of May 20, 2012, Guerrero, Guerra and several friends went to the Hooters restaurant on Southwest Boulevard.

Guerrero and some others in his group were believed to be members of a south Fort Worth gang that had been warring with a rival south side gang, according to the Tarrant County assistant district attorneys, Tamla Ray and Michelle Dobson, who prosecuted the case in state District Judge Wayne Salvant’s court.

A Hooters employee saw them and called members of his gang. Three of them came to the restaurant and waited for Guerrero and the others to leave. Shortly after 9 p.m., Guerrero, Guerra and three others drove away in a white Toyota Camry, headed east on South Loop 820 and turned south onto Interstate 35W.

When they took the Sycamore School Road exit, a tan Tahoe pulled up, and one of the gang members, Joe “Lil Joe” Sessums, opened fire on them, according to authorities. The Camry crashed into a freeway retaining wall. Guerrero, who was driving, and Guerra, in the front passenger seat, were pronounced dead at the scene.

About a month later, Fort Worth police arrested Sessums, Cerda and Jose "Stretch" De La Rosa. De La Rosa, 20, remained in the Tarrant County Jail on Tuesday awaiting his capital murder trial. Bail for De La Rosa is set at $1 million. Sessums was prosecuted in November and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Two days after the shootings, Guerrero's sister told the Star-Telegram that her brother was working as a metal roofer and had an infant son. He was not in a gang but had been around gang members at social gatherings, she said.

In October 2011, Guerrero was shot in the foot when a gunman fired on party-goers at a house in the Rosemont neighborhood, killing Christina Davila, 21. Six other people were also wounded.

In September, Jacob Cordero, 22, was sentenced to 99 years in prison for that killing and for engaging in organized crime. The backdrop to Cordero's action was that two rival gangs were at war, according to prosecutors.

This story includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

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