ELKHART — Oscar Eduardo Perez, convicted in 2006 of murder and attempted murder for the death of a 14-year-old boy as a result of a shooting, lost an appeal for the second time.
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Judge Terry Shewmaker’s decision in denying Perez post-conviction relief.
Perez, 27, was involved in a confrontation between the Nortenos and Surenos gangs on Feb. 18, 2006, which turned into a high-speed chase along U.S. 33 in Goshen and ended in the death of 14-year-old Rogelio Reyes.
According to the appeals court’s written decision, Perez, while riding in a red Acura, grabbed an SKS assault rifle and fired three to five shots out at a tan Malibu Reyes was riding in. Reyes and Saul Rodriguez, the driver of the Malibu, were each hit by one of the bullets.
Following a jury trial, Perez was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and criminal gang activity. On Oct. 26, 2006, he was sentenced to 85 years in prison.
Perez had appealed in 2007 and his convictions were affirmed then.
In 2012, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief. Post-conviction relief allows a person to challenge their conviction by alleging their defense attorney was not effective, explained Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill in a statement.
Perez said his counsel during the trial failed to raise self-defense at the trial and did not challenge the attempted murder charge, which he claimed was ineffective.
Evidentiary hearings were held in November 2011 and June 2012. On Nov. 21, 2012, Shewmaker denied Perez’s post-conviction relief petition, and Perez appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The Indiana Court of Appeals announced its opinion Wednesday after judges found that Perez’s attorneys were effective as Perez’s self-defense claim was not viable.
“The Court further held that the State was permitted to add the attempted murder charge, and that such an objection on appeal would not have succeeded,” according to the press release.
Perez will continue to serve his 85-year sentence for the murder and attempted murder charges in a state prison.
Perez was also one of 40 people indicted on federal charges in 2012 for a methamphetamine ring from within the Indiana prison system. The federal case is not yet resolved.