A 15-year-old Pasco boy who claims he participated in a deadly shooting because he needed to “put in work” for his gang was charged Tuesday with murder.
Abraham Barajas is accused of meeting up with friend and fellow gang member, Chris Pedroza-DeSantiago, and agreeing to kill a man because victim was wearing a rival color.
The two allegedly argued Feb. 4 about who would pull the trigger before Pedroza-DeSantiago took the gun out, walked past Juan C. Melgoza in the parking lot of Fiesta Foods, turned and shot the 42-year-old Pasco man in the back.
On Tuesday, Pedroza-DeSantiago appeared in Franklin County Superior Court as the charges were being filed against his co-defendant, Barajas.
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Pedroza-DeSantiago’s arraignment was delayed one week while his family tries to hire a lawyer. The 20-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a gun.
Barajas is scheduled to appear Thursday in Juvenile Court to enter a plea to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He will have to go through a special hearing to decide if he should be tried as an adult.
More than two dozen of Melgoza’s relatives and friends attended Tuesday’s hearing for Pedroza-DeSantiago, who also had about 10 supporters in court.
Seven Pasco police officers and detectives provided extra security and helped “keep the peace,” said Sgt. Scott Warren.
Warren said Melgoza’s family requested the extra police presence after some concerns during Pedroza-DeSantiago’s first appearance last week. He said there were no issues with either side on Tuesday.
Kennewick attorney Scott Johnson was appointed to represent Pedroza-DeSantiago. However, Norma Rodriguez told the court that she has been talking with the family about being Pedroza-DeSantiago’s lawyer.
Court documents filed in the two cases show, Pedroza-DeSantiago was leaving the 10th Avenue grocery store when he stumbled into Melgoza. The two got into a heated argument over Melgoza’s red-colored clothing, then they walked away from each other.
However, Pedroza-DeSantiago’s girlfriend told investigators that he was angry and had “vindictive desires,” so he enlisted the help of Barajas and returned to the store within minutes, documents said.
Barajas said he believed he “would have been kicked out of the gang and beaten up” if he did not meet up with Pedroza-DeSantiago. Barajas claimed that Pedroza-DeSantiago yelled their gang’s name as he fired several times at Melgoza, documents said.
Pedroza-DeSantiago is being held in the Franklin County jail on $500,000 bail. Barajas’ bail is set at $250,000 while he is in the Juvenile Detention Center in Kennewick.