Witness Calls Gang Member 'Remorseful'

Article excerpt


A witness testified yesterday that an MS-13 gang member on trial for capital murder didn't want to kill 17-year-old Brenda "Smiley" Paz until after she had her baby.

In his second day of testimony in U.S. District Court of Alexandria, Joel "Sharkey" Reyes-Mattos, 24, told the jury that Ismael Cisneros urged during a gang meeting on the night of July 12, 2003, that Miss Paz's slaying be postponed because of the pregnancy.

"He looked remorseful ... three or four days later," testified Reyes-Mattos, who has been sentenced to prison for 30 years on drug and gun charges.

"The gang was like a family to him," said Reyes-Mattos, who then described troubles that plagued Cisneros with his own family.

Cisneros, 25, and three others - Oscar Antonio Grande, 21; Denis Rivera, 21; and Oscar Alexander Garcia-Orellana, 31 - are charged with killing Miss Paz. The four suspects are members of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13 - the largest street gang in Northern Virginia.

Rivera is accused of ordering the other three defendants from his jail cell to kill Miss Paz. At the time of her slaying, Rivera was awaiting trial in the slaying of a rival gang member.

Prosecutors say the four men knew that Miss Paz was talking to police and that she was going to be a witness in Rivera's murder trial. Witnesses had said gang leaders placed a "green light," or murder order, on Miss Paz.

Each faces capital murder and four other charges. They could receive the death penalty if convicted. …