A Delaware teenager identified as a member of the violent Sur-13 street gang admitted his role Monday in the gang-related double murder in New Garden that occurred almost one year ago.
Cristian Eumana, 19, of Greenville, Del., was sentenced to 11 to 22 years in state prison by Senior Judge Ronald Nagle after pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree murder and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit third-degree murder. He will also serve six years of consecutive probation for his crimes.
The sentence was part of a plea agreement worked out between the prosecution and defense and submitted to Nagle for his approval.
The prosecution contended, and Eumana agreed, that he was among a group of a dozen men and youths who attacked a bonfire party on Dec. 3 and fought with people they believed were associated the Vikings, a street gang considered the bitter enemy of the Sur-13s, also known as the Surenos.
Eumana, a high school drop out, was the person who received a call alerting the Sur-13 gang members of the whereabouts of the Vikings the night of the attack. He and others then organized an armed raiding group and drove to the scene of the party.
Dressed in a blue shirt, black trousers, with a shaved head and slight beard, Eumana said little else besides acknowledging his complicity in the murder of 27-year-old Cuahuctemo “Temo” Bedolla of West Grove, who was identified as a member of the Vikings, and 29-year-old Jose “Little” Rodriguez also of West Grove, an ex-convict. Both men died of stab wounds.
“No one forced you to sign this document, is that correct?” Nagle asked Eumana, referring to the guilty plea colloquy submitted in the case. “Yes. It’s my decision,” Eumana answered.
“I’d like to say I’m sorry for my actions,” Eumana told Nagle during the 30 minute hearing, although he did not apologize directly to the families of Bedolla or Rodriguez, members of which were in Nagle’s courtroom. He also did not look at or address his mother and sister, who sat silently through the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Andrea Cardamone, who is leading the prosecution of all 12 of the defendants in the murders, told Nagle that the victims’ families would not address the court on Monday, although they remain intensely focused on the case.
“This is a long process and they will likely be back in court on future occasions,” Cardamone told the judge. “They have much they want to say, but they are not sure they could get through it al today. They hope to speak at a future time.”
Bedolla and Rodriguez were both stabbed at a trailer park like area on Baltimore Pike in New Garden where they were attending an outdoor party arranged by Kennett Consolidated High School students to watch a boxing match the night of Dec. 3. Although Bedolla was associated with the Vikings gang, the people who put the party together were not necessarily members of that street gang.
According to police accounts of the crime, members of the Sur-13 came to the party early on but were asked to leave because of the presence of members of the Vikings. The Sur-13s left, but alerted other gang members, who gathered together in a number of vans and descended on the party, intent on attacking the Vikings. With them, they brought a number of weapons, including bats, wooden stakes, and knives.
They surrounded the Vikings outside an abandoned trailer and began fighting them. Bedolla was stabbed and taken to the Jennersville Regional Hospital, where he died. Police learned of the fight and later found Rodriguez’s body near a small creek in the area.
Answering questions from Nagle, Cardamone said that Eumana had spoken with police after the fight and admitted his participation. She said he turned over a knife he said he used in the fight but that an examination of it revealed no forensic material that could tie him directly to either man’s death. Instead, he was charged as a conspirator and accomplice in the killings.
She said however that authorities believed that Eumana did “physically engage” either one or both of the dead men during the fight. “We have no difficulty in stating that (Eumana) was a stabber,” she said.
Defense attorneys Howard Brown of Coatesville and William C. Reil of Philadelphia represented Eumana. Brown said that he had gone over his client’s plea with him in detail, after having withdrawn pre-trial motions because of the amount of evidence against him. He faced the possibility of a maximum 20-to-40 year sentence for both murders if convicted at trial.
Brown noted his client’s age – he was 18 at the time of the murders – and asked Nagle to recommend that he be kept in a state prison where he could engage in rehabilitation programs.
“He’s a rather bright young man, and had no problems understanding the (guilty plea),” Brown said. “Even though this is a horrific crime we ask that you give him some hope and allow him to go to a minimum security prison or a facility where he could get some rehabilitation, and be close to home.”
Nagle said that he would leave that up to the state Department of Corrections.
Eumana was arrested on Jan. 30, about two months following the murders, with 10 others described as members or associates of the Sur-13s. Many of those arrested were high school students, and their ages range from 16 to 20.