LOS ANGELES—On March 2, Jorge Palacios, 49, of Whittier and an MS-13 gang member was convicted for murdering 13 year-old, Jacqueline Piazza in 2001. On June 28, 2001 Piazza’s body was found naked at Elysian Park with two gun shots to her head.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office indicated that the defendant, and his accomplices, Rogelio Contreras, Melvin Sandoval and Santos Grimaldi, kidnapped the victim and drove her to a random park where they sexually assaulted and killed her.
Palacios was found guilty by the jury for count one first degree murder. They also found true special circumstance allegations that the crime occurred in the commission of rape, lewd acts on a child and kidnapping. He also was convicted of one count of kidnapping to commit rape. A separate jury is considering the same charges for Palacios accomplices. The jury found true gang and gun allegations. Grimaldi’s charges include an allegation of personally using a gun.
Piazza’s murder remained unresolved for several years because of a lack of evidence and information. The Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery and Homicide Division, working with the Gang and Narcotics Division, uncovered new information and presented it to the District Attorney’s Hardcore Gang Division. An indictment was unsealed in June 2012 charging the four men in the crime.
Sentencing for Jorge Palacios is scheduled for April 11 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Department 106. He faces a maximum life in prison sentence without the possibility of parole.