GOSHEN — An Elkhart man convicted of attempted murder will have his sentenced doubled as a result of a criminal gang enhancement.
A trial jury for the Elkhart Circuit Court determined Jose Alejandro, 21, was a member of a criminal gang at the time he was involved in the shooting of Flavio Contreras.
Alejandro, who faced a sentence of up to 50 years in prison after he was found guilty of attempted murder, now faces a maximum sentence of 100 years.
The trial started Monday, April 22, and was a bifurcated trial, which means it had two phases. The first phase was for the jury to determine whether Alejandro was guilty of attempted murder. The second phase was to determine if Alejandro should receive a criminal gang enhancement.
Alejandro was arrested July 4, 2012, for his involvement in the shooting of Flavio Contreras, then 19, of Elkhart. On Tuesday, the court heard from witnesses, including the victim, about the night of May 23, 2012.
Contreras told the court Alejandro went to his house that night to ask him where a friend of his was. Alejandro and three other people then took Contreras to a desolate area of the county and shot him five times.
The prosecuting attorneys presented a printout of a Facebook page that showed a message some friends of Contreras had written making references to gang affiliations. The messages had been posted on Facebook some time before Contreras was shot.
On Wednesday, April 24, the jury heard from Rich Matteson, a certified gang specialist. Matteson gave the court information about gangs, their symbols and their activity in Elkhart County.
The prosecuting attorney sought to prove to the jury that Alejandro was a member of the Latin Kings and that he committed the crime for which was convicted at the direction of, or in affiliation of a criminal gang.
They showed the court photographs of Alejandro making hand symbols that showed his apparent affiliation with the gang. They also talked about tattoos Alejandro had as evidence of his gang affiliation.
The jury came up with the verdict Wednesday afternoon.
Alejandro’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 23.