Jury selection got under way Thursday for the trial of a woman accused of luring a wealthy Mexican businessman to a Chula Vista home in 2007, where he was held for eight days by Mexican gang members demanding a ransom.
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Nancy Mendoza Moreno, 23, is charged with kidnapping for ransom with bodily injury and conspiracy to commit kidnapping for ransom. She faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
Opening statements are expected Tuesday.
Moreno allegedly met Mexican businessman Eduardo Gonzalez-Tostado at a coffee shop on June 8, 2007 and immediately lured him to the South Bay home with a false hope the two would be intimate. Instead, Gonzalez-Tostado was beaten by masked gunmen wearing police uniforms who turned out to be members of the Los Palillos Mexican gang, prosecutor James Fontaine said.
The victim's family put together nearly $194,000 to pay the ransom, and a tracking device placed in a container with the money led to five defendants, who were arrested on June 16, 2007, as they tried to drive away during the victim's rescue, according to authorities.
Jorge Rojas Lopez and Juan Francisco-Estrada Gonzalez were convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Last month, two other members of Los Palillos, Jose Olivera Beritan and David Valencia, were convicted of the kidnapping and other crimes, including murder.
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