Pair who firebombed California tire shop, killing 3 teens, get life sentences

Two of the four men convicted in the deadly firebombing attack on a South El Monte tire shop that left three teenagers dead nearly a decade ago, over what investigators said was a slight at a party involving a stolen necklace, were given life sentences Tuesday, April 30.

Roberto Fuentes and Mario Godina were 20 and 19 years old, respectively, on April 25, 2015. The childhood friends had left a party at Cheque Tires on Santa Anita Avenue just after 3 a.m. — inside, someone had snatched a gold necklace off Godina’s neck.

That theft, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective’s 2016 testimony, left Fuentes and Godina wanting revenge.

The Los Angeles Fire Department investigate a firebombing at Cheque Tires in South El Monte on April 25(MNG File Photo) 

About two hours later, armed with vases and jars filled with gasoline, Fuentes, Godina and two others — German Monrreal and Estavan Castillo — lit the devices and tossed them into the tire shop, setting the building on fire.

The three victims — Rodrigo Gonzalez, 17, Destiny Aguirre, 18, and Christopher Jimenez, 17 — were all sleeping inside the shop when the fire started. Gonzalez escaped the building, but was badly burned and died quickly after collapsing outside. Aguirre and Jimenez’s charred bodies were later found inside under a makeshift bed.

On Tuesday, Fuentes and Godina were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for their roles in the firebombing.

Fuentes was arrested just a day after the attack, and has been in custody ever since. Godina, along with Monrreal and Castillo, both 20 years old at the time, were found and arrested at a ranch in Guadalajara, Mexico about three months later.

All four men initially pleaded not guilty to the firebombing in 2015.

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Delayed for years, criminal proceedings for all four accused in the attack would not pick up again until 2020, court records show.

All four maintained not-guilty pleas all the way up until late last year. In October 2023, Monrreal was the first to agree not to contest the charges against him, without admitting guilt to any of them. He was immediately convicted of one count of using a destructive device to destroy property, three counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of arson. He has not been sentenced yet.

By December, the remaining three also all agreed not to contest their charges.

Fuentes and Godina were both convicted of two counts of second-degree murder.

Castillo was convicted of one count of murder. Castillo, who was scheduled to be sentenced along with Fuentes and Godina on Tuesday, was not in court. His sentencing date was delayed to July 9.



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