Jurors on Friday convicted a Long Beach man of murder for the slaying of a 36-year-old woman at a taco truck more than two and a half years ago.
After just a few short hours of deliberations, jurors concluded Friday that 27-year-old Tyquan Benson was guilty of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting death Alejandra Martinez on Dec. 4, 2020.
Additionally, Benson was found guilty of one count each of attempted murder, shooting from a motor vehicle, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and being a prohibited possessor in possesion of a gun. The jury also found the allegation that he used a gun in the commission of the crime to be true.
During the two-week-long trial, Deputy District Attorney Robert Song argued that Benson, along with his alleged co-conspirator, Jacquise Wright, 33, killed Martinez during a planned ambush meant to target rival gang members at a taco truck in the area of Anaheim Street and Magnolia Avenue.
Song argued that Benson was a member the Insane Baby Crips gang and showed jurors a slew of evidence, including gang expert and witness testimony; surveillance video from a gas station across the street and a liquor store the defendants visited before the shooting; the guns used in the shootings; and jail recordings in which Benson can seemingly be heard admitting to the crime.
In closing arguments Thursday, Song cast Benson as the aggressor, claiming he spoke with a group at the taco truck before pointing at gun at them and opening fire from inside the parking lot.
“This isn’t some act of God,” Song said. “He kicked it off. He started the whole chain of events.”
Benson’s attorney, Theida Salazar, never denied that his client was in a gang, nor that he was at the taco truck that night. Instead, he attempted to cast doubt on witnesses and the police investigation, while maintaining that Benson was never there at the time of the shooting.
He also denied that Benson was the aggressor, arguing that the real aggressor was a 17-year-old girl who was affililated with a gang and trying to “bang” on people, and who, along with Martinez, would eventually end up getting shot that night.
“Who provoked who? That’s gonna be for you to decide,” Salazar said, asking jurors to find Benson not guilty.
Song countered, saying “this was one of the best investigated cases ever.”
He argued that Benson and his co-conspirator had originally arrived to the taco truck in one car, but when they left and came back, they did so in two separate cars in an effort to initiate their plan without arousing suspicion from the rival gang members.
“Not only did they come back in two cars, they brought two guns,” Song said. “We know that because both of them held onto their guns.”
“They had a plan, and the plan was obvious from the video.”
Benson will be sentenced on Oct. 3. Wright’s trial was postponed and will continue at a later date.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information on the charges.