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Murder suspect in Colusa teen's slaying charged as adult
A 16-year-old Colusa boy, charged with the murder of a 14-year-old rival gang member, was arraigned in Colusa County Superior Court on Thursday.
Judge Jeffrey Thompson told Armando G. Leon that he was being charged as an adult on suspicion of murder with malice — a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years to life.
"So even though you are under the age of 18, the law allows you to be charged as an adult and the (district attorney) has chosen to do that," Thompson said.
Leon is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 5 with an attorney and to enter a plea. He indicated his family plans to retain a private attorney.
Leon is believed to be a member of the Sureños gang, but may have at one time been a member of the Norteños, a source involved in the investigation said.
The victim, Miguel Muniz, 14, was believed to be a member of the Norteños. The Sureños and Norteños as rival Hispanic gangs are typically based in Southern and Northern California, respectively, but are widespread throughout the state.
Investigators said members of the two gangs had some kind of confrontation prior to the shooting death of Muniz at the corner of Third and Sioc streets in Colusa on Aug. 23.
Muniz's body was found by a passing Colusa police officer about 10:15 p.m.
He was pronounced dead shortly after that at Colusa Regional Medical Center. The cause of death is listed as a gunshot wound to the chest, although toxicology reports are pending, the Colusa County Coroner's Office reported.
Leon appeared in court handcuffed, wearing blue jail clothing and a protective vest.
He is being held without bail at an area juvenile facility, officials said.
Security at the courthouse was increased inside the courtroom, in the lobby area and around the building, but there were no incidents.
Leon was arrested by Colusa police at about 12:35 p.m. following an interview at the Colusa County Sheriff's Department, police Chief Ross Stark said.
The suspect has not confessed, authorities confirmed.
Information from additional witnesses, uncovered after search warrants were served at two homes Tuesday morning, led to the identity of the suspect, Stark said.
One of the search warrants was for a Lafayette Street home, the location of another gang-related brawl on May 31.
The second warrant was served at a Cahill Circle residence.