120-Year Sentence Affirmed In Indiana Gang Rival’s Killing

(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a northwestern Indiana man’s 120-year sentence in the slaying of a gang rival, finding that evidence in the case supported a criminal gang enhancement that doubled his sentence.

From left are Rolando M. Leal Jr. and Angel Garcia-Berrios.

Angel Garcia-Berrios, 26, was convicted of murder last year in the January 2016 fatal East Chicago shooting of 25-year-old Thaddeus Rodriguez Jr., of Hammond. A Lake County judge sentenced him to 60 years, plus an additional 60 years for committing the crime while belonging to a gang.

Garcia-Berrios appealed his sentence, arguing in part that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that he was a member of a criminal gang. The East Chicago man also claimed that Indiana’s gang enhancement statute is unconstitutional.

But the appeals court rejected those arguments in a 3-0 ruling on April 17, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

The court noted that four different witnesses testified at trial about Garcia-Berrios’ membership in the Two Six gang, including his use of hand symbols and spoken phrases the gang uses for identification.

Under Indiana law, Garcia-Berrios must serve at least 75% of his sentence.

According to court records, Garcia-Berrios and another man ambushed Rodriguez because Garcia-Berrios believed Rodriguez had stolen a gold chain from his sister.