Jurors on Thursday convicted two men of murder and attempted murder for carrying out a drive-by shooting in West Long Beach that killed a 69-year-old grandfather and injured another man.

Prosecutors said Terrel Warren, 28, and Rhyan Burrell, 25, were “prowling” for Hispanic people to shoot near Cabrillo High School on Oct. 9, 2018, after one of their relatives was “accosted” on campus earlier in the day by a group of Hispanic students.

The two of them drove around the area of Canal Street and Summit Avenue for a while before Warren, from the passenger’s side, unloaded several shots at a car driving by, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile, from the driver’s side, Burrell shot at Jose Corrales — who had no connection to the situation — and his grandchildren.

Warren’s shots managed to hit the passenger of the car driving by, according to prosecutors, who said the man survived his injuries. Corrales, who was hit by a single bullet in his lower torso area, died at the scene.

Jose Raul Corrales with his wife and grandson. Corrales was shot to death in West Long Beach on Oct. 9, 2018. Photo courtesy Jerry Amaya-Rodriguez.
Jose Raul Corrales with his wife and grandson. Corrales was shot to death in West Long Beach on Oct. 9, 2018. Photo courtesy Jerry Amaya-Rodriguez.

The trial against Warren and Burrell began on Jan. 11. Over the course of nearly two weeks, it centered around witness testimony from bystanders, detectives, ballistic experts, and Corrales’ grandchildren, along with cell phone records, surveillance footage, and undercover operations in jail where prosecutors say the defendants implicated themselves in the crime.

Each defense attorney, meanwhile, attacked the case and attempted to cast doubt on the evidence presented by prosecutors.

But during closing arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Robert Song contended that there was “overwhelming evidence” proving Warren and Burrell were “ready to kill” when they shot at Corrales and the other man.

Song said Warren and Burrell were already upset one of their relatives had been attacked at Cabrillo High School, so they hatched a plan to kill Hispanic people as revenge.

He said video evidence showed Warren and Burrell, along with other family members, arriving at Cabrillo High School around noon to talk with administrators about a fight on campus. But the interaction between them and administrators quickly became so “heated” that police were called to the school, Song said. More video shows Warren, Burrell, another adult and a teenager outside of the school before they all head toward a Gold Altima, Song said.

The same Gold Altima can later be seen in security camera footage driving around in the area of Summit Avenue and Canal Street, Song said.

This, according to Song, showed Warren and Burrell planned the shooting ahead of time. Shortly after, Warren and Burrell, still in the same car, approached Corrales’ grandchildren. Warren, who was in the passenger seat, asked them where they were from, a common phrase used by gangsters to check for any gang affiliation, Song said.

Corrales’ grandchildren said they didn’t “bang,” and Warren responded with an expletive and a derogatory word used against Hispanic gang members, Song said.

Cameras again capture the same car driving through the intersection of Summit Avenue and Canal Street before someone in the passenger seat, who prosecutors identified as Warren, begins firing at least eight shots at a car passing by.

Within seconds, someone from the driver’s side of the Gold Altima, who prosecutors say was Burrell, shoots at least six shots from a different gun toward Corrales and his grandchildren.

“Not only is this supported by video evidence but also ballistics evidence,” Song told jurors. “Each time they pulled the trigger, they are expressing intent to kill.”

Warren and Burrell fled but were later arrested after police surveilled them for over a week, Song said. During this time, both men continued to use the Gold Altima, and detectives were able to further tie them to the scene of the crime using cell phone records, which revealed they both left the scene of the crime together, Song said.

Following their arrest, the two were recorded talking with an undercover agent about the crime, Song said.

During one conversation, Burrell appears concerned that police might check his fridge if they serve a warrant at his home in Lynwood while Warren admits to using a 9mm while the other shooter used a .40 caliber, Song said. Eventually, officers found a .40 caliber gun in Burrell’s freezer and tied it to the deadly shooting on Oct. 9, 2018. In another conversation, Warren can be heard telling Burrell that police “found the ice cream” at his home, according to Song. The gun Warren admitted to using was later found in an unrelated arrest, Song said.

“They are partners in crime,” Song said. “It’s their gun, and they used it to gun down Jose Corrales.”

Warren’s attorney, Adam Koppekin, admitted that Warren was the person in the passenger seat who fired the gun at the car driving by, but said that the 28-year-old never knew someone on the other side would be firing at Corrales or the kids.

He told jurors to not be swayed by the prosecutor’s “speculation” about what provoked the shooting and asked them to “pay attention to the facts and evidence.”

Koppekin then pointed out that the shooting doesn’t begin until the people in the car driving by cross paths with the car Warren is in, and it was reasonable to suggest that it was a “spur of the moment” shooting.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Warren had any knowledge or intent to kill anyone on that side,” Koppekin said, adding that there was nothing willful or premeditated about Corrales’ killing. “This is not first-degree murder, this is second.”

Burrell’s attorney, Charles Frisco, maintained that there was hardly any evidence to connect his client to the shooting, aside from a bystander identifying him as the driver and the gun found in his fridge.

He said even though detectives did a great job investigating the murder, there were a lot of “holes in this case” that suggested Burrell was not the shooter. Instead, it was Warren’s brother who shot Corrales from the back passenger’s seat, Frisco said.

This, according to Frisco, was backed up by witness statements that said there were at least one or two other people in the car with Burrell and Warren that afternoon. Security footage from after the talk with administrators at Cabrillo High School, which shows Warren’s brother and their relative who was attacked that day, following Warren and Burrell off camera, most likely to the Gold Altima, further supports this, Frisco said.

But, “brothers don’t snitch,” Frisco said, adding that investigators never looked into whether Warren’s brother played a role in the shooting.

“Nobody sees my client do anything but drive,” Frisco told jurors. “That’s no words, no actions.”

In addition, Frisco said that jail recordings where Burrell shows concern about the gun being found in the fridge didn’t prove he shot the weapon and that the 25-year-old’s only concern was being tied to the crime as an accessory.

“Nowhere in that operation does Rhyan ever say he shot anybody,” Frisco said, adding that the 25-year-old calling Warren his “crime partner” on tape shouldn’t be taken literally and it doesn’t prove admission of guilt.

Song, countered, saying Warren and Burrell were both guilty of first-degree murder and that defense attorneys were only asking jurors to look at parts of the evidence.

“I’m asking you to look at all the evidence,” Song said, pointing out high tensions at Cabrillo High before the shooting, how the defendants were lying in wait, and the evidence in the aftermath. “This was not a rash decision. They drove around looking for targets.”

He also called the idea that Warren was not aware that someone else was going to shoot from the driver’s side “ludicrous” when there were multiple guns in the car.

The reason Warren’s brother was never charged with a crime was because the evidence gathered by investigators pointed at Burrell and Warren as the people responsible, according to Song. This included matching their DNA evidence to the ballistics collected at the scene of the crime, he said.

“That’s why the two people present in this courtroom have been charged with this series of crimes,” Song said.

He then told jurors that the “worst outcome” in this case would be for them to go back into deliberations “and think this was a series of mistakes or bad decision making.”

“These men had a choice. … they chose to kill Jose Corrales.”

Ultimately, jurors deliberated for several hours before finding Warren and Burrell guilty of first-degree murder, six counts of attempted murder, one count of shooting from a motor vehicle, and one count of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Jurors also found true the special circumstance that they shot from a car.

Jurors also found true that Warren caused great bodily harm when he fired the weapon.

They’re both scheduled to be sentenced on March 13.