Another man connected to the 2016 killing of a teenager at a park in Missouri City as part of an effort to silence him as a witness has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to a news release from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Darwin Jose Lopez-Ramos, 22, of Houston, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one count of murder and was sentenced as part of a plea agreement, according to court records.
Lopez-Ramos was one of several members of the MS-13 transnational gang who helped lure Estuar Quinonez, 16, to Buffalo Run Park in Missouri City, where he was shot 15 times as he sat on a park bench, prosecutors said. Each of the gang members present shot Quinonez, according to the news release.
A jogger found Quinonez while on her morning jog, thought he might have passed out from the heat, and approached him before discovering he was lying in a pool of blood, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Lopez-Ramos had been facing trial for a capital murder charge before reaching the plea deal with prosecutors, according to the news release.
Because Lopez-Ramos was 17 at the time of the killing, he wasn’t eligible for life in prison without parole or the death penalty, as would normally be the case in a capital murder charge, according to the news release.
MS-13 is a transnational gang that started in California in the 1980s and quickly spread across the country and into Central America. The gang now has a presence in major cities, including in Houston and the region.
This is the fourth person to receive a prison sentence in connection to the death of Quinonez.