January 25 -- More than three years after the shooting
death of Jalonnie Carter, the 19-year-old Santa Monican's alleged
killer was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison for the crime.
Mathew Felix Vargas, aka "Lil Rooster," was sentenced
Tuesday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to 53 years to life
after being convicted in the September 2, 2003 murder of Carter
in the Pico Neighborhood.
Carter was shot by a .22-caliber handgun, as he stood near the small
apartment he shared with his mother and stepfather, police said.
He was shot in the back and the bullet struck his heart
A firearm and other evidence led to the charges against Vargas,
who was also charged with "gang enhancement," three
counts of personal use of a gun causing great bodily injury and
intentional discharge of a firearm, according to police.
By the time Santa Monica Police arrested Vargas in April of 2005,
the hunt for Cater’s killer had grabbed headlines, with his
mother complaining that police were taking too long and not doing
enough to capture her son’s killer.
According to documents filed by the District Attorney, Vargas was
engaged in "gang activity" in an alley on the 1800 block
of 20th Street when he shot Carter
The murder, the complaint said, was "for the benefit of, at
the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang
with the specific intent to promote, further and assist in criminal