June 1, 2006
Seven family members are shot during a botched robbery
Alberto Covarrubias (56, pictured left center) and Emma Valdez (46, right center) were at their home with their children Alberto (11, left) and David Covarrubias (8, right) at the time of the attack. They were also watching Emma’s grandson, 5-year-old Luis Albarran (center) while his mother Flora Albarran (22) ran some errands.
Flora and her brother Magno Albarran (29), two of Emma’s adult children, stopped by the home to pick up Luis on the evening of June 1. They had a friend with them who waited in the car. The friend heard Flora yell, “Stay outside!” as she was pulled back inside the house, followed by “Not my baby!” and multiple gunshots. Two masked men fled the scene and neighbors called 911. Police found the bodies of all seven family members in various locations within the home. Each had died from multiple gunshot wounds.
The following day, according to court testimony, Stewart told a friend he “messed up.” When pressed, he explained he was involved with a mass killing. According to the testimony, Stewart said he went upstairs in the home to find cocaine and money and, when he came back down, saw a man holding a gun to his friend and accomplice Desmond Turner. (This man was likely Mango, who was found with a .357 handgun beneath his leg.) In response, Stewart started shooting. Stewart was arrested on June 2 during a traffic stop while Turner surrendered to police on June 3.
Prosecutors suggested Turner and Stewart wore masks and armed themselves with rifles and handguns before knocking on Covarrubias’ and Valdez’s door. When the door was opened, the pair pushed their way inside and held the family hostage while demanding access to a safe rumored to be filled with drugs and cash, and likely grew agitated when the rumor proved to be false.
Although no eye witnesses identified the pair and no physical evidence could be found directly connecting them to the scene (such as fingerprints or the murder weapons), four witnesses testified Stewart had confessed to them about the crime and provided details to help substantiate the claim. Additionally, the vehicle the killers used to flee from the scene was identified as one belonging to Turner’s friend who had lent the truck to Turner the day of the shooting. Turner and Stewart were both convicted of the murders and sentenced to life without parole.
Turner’s attorney has appealed the conviction on the basis of no eye witnesses placing him at the scene and the lack of physical evidence against him, though as of this writing his appeal has been denied. Stewart’s attorney similarly appealed his conviction for the same reasons, arguing the witnesses’ testimony regarding Stewart’s confession should be deemed hearsay. His sentence was reduced from life without parole to 421 years in prison which his attorney is also appealing, arguing there is no discernible difference between the new sentence and life in prison.
Left to right: Alberto Covarrubias, Alberto Covarrubias, Luis Albarran, Emma Valdez, and David Covarrubias
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