Valley News -

San Jacinto gang-related death penalty trial handed to jury


Last updated 11/13/2018 at 6:04pm

INDIO - Jury deliberations began on Tuesday, Nov. 13 in the death penalty trial of a documented gang member who allegedly opened fire on seven people outside a San Jacinto home, killing one.

Salvador Venegas, 36, is accused in the Feb. 5, 2014, killing of Runar Claus, 37, of Hemet, who was shot in the driveway of a residence where the victim was talking with a group of friends.

Venegas and an unidentified second person approached the group, asked "Where you from?'' then began firing on the group before anyone could answer, the prosecution alleges. Claus was struck in the abdomen and taken to Hemet Valley Hospital, where he later died.

Venegas is charged with one count of murder, six counts of attempted murder and four counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, with a special circumstance allegation of committing the murder to benefit a criminal street gang. If he is convicted of murder and jurors find the special circumstance to be true, a penalty trial phase will commence to determine whether Venegas will receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Venegas was arrested in Hemet about three weeks after the killing following a short pursuit of a vehicle in which he was a passenger.

Investigators said Venegas was placed at the shooting scene through data recovered from a GPS ankle monitor, which he was required to wear as part of a bail agreement stemming from a gun possession case.

The criminal complaint alleges that Venegas was previously convicted in 2000 of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years and four months in prison in a case out of Los Angeles County. Details on that case were not available through Riverside County court records.


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