Southern California gang member gets 25 years for killing 14-year-old boy

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A member of a Southern California street gang has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the 2012 murder of a 14-year-old boy.

Gilbert Villanueva, 29, of Ventura was sentenced Friday, weeks after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the death of Joshua Angel Burciaga. He also admitted to committing the crime on behalf of his gang.

On the night of June 27, 2012, Villanueva and a co-defendant, Justin Patino, traveled to Saticoy Park in the unincorporated community of Saticoy near Ventura wearing face coverings and “looking for revenge” after one of their fellow gang members was injured.

There they found a group of people, including Burciaga, whom they recognized and began firing at with handguns.

“Villanueva and Patino chased Joshua and continued to fire at him until he fell to the ground … stood over him and fired additional shots as Joshua begged for his life,” a news release from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office states.

They then fled the scene and attempted to conceal and destroy any evidence that could tie them to the murder, officials said.

Joshua was pronounced dead at the scene, shot multiple times including twice in the head from close range.

Gilbert Villanueva of Ventura is shown in this undated mugshot provided by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office on May 31, 2024.

Villanueva was arrested the following month and charged with Burciaga’s murder. Patino was arrested and charged in October of that year as he was being released from a juvenile facility on unrelated charges.

The two murder weapons were found buried at a ranch in Santa Paula, wrapped in the same bandanas they used to cover their faces on the night of the shooting, officials said.

Both Villanueva and Patino were only 17 at the time of the killing, but were tried as adults.

Patino was found guilty of murder on March 16, 2018 and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison, twice the length of Villanueva’s sentence.

Tom Dunlevy, a senior deputy district attorney, said the D.A.’s Office was grateful for the “thorough” investigation conducted by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

“We hope that the defendant’s sentence provides some sense of closure to the victim’s family after so many years and allows them to continue the healing process,” Dunlevy said.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.