Man convicted of killing 3 in Merced County


A Merced County man was convicted on three counts of murder, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Pete Valenzuela was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of assault with a semi-automatic handgun – along with various special circumstance allegations and enhancements.

The case stems from several incidents occurring in 2012. 

The first was the murder of Antonio Jacobo on Oct. 7, 2012 on West 6th Street between T and S streets – in front of Sheehy Elementary School. 

Valenzuela shot Jacobo multiple times with a semi-automatic pistol. 

That case remained unsolved with Merced Police Detectives working to collect evidence and develop suspects, until Dec. 1, 2012 when the bodies of Luis Morales and Benjamin Mariano were found in the early morning hours near the corner of West 23rd and Canal. Both had been shot multiple times around 2:30 a.m. 

Investigators determined that both had gotten into an argument with Valenzuela over gang issues at a party in an apartment nearby, the DA’s Office said.

Before that case could be fully investigated, Valenzuela, along with Patrick Cervantes and Israel Barajas, attacked a Merced man who had returned from town after completing Navy boot camp and was visiting Cervantes’ girlfriend.

During the attack, all three severely beat the man and as he ran for his life, fired two rounds from the same semi-automatic pistol that had been used to kill Jacobo, Morales and Mariano.

Valenzuela is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2019.

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