Crime-Scene Tattoo Leads to Murder Conviction

The Atlantic Wire
Crime-Scene Tattoo Leads to Murder Conviction
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Crime-Scene Tattoo Leads to Murder Conviction

Prison tattoos, gang tattoos, the famed teardrop on the cheek, all of these are small-time compared to the full-fledged murder scene one Los Angeles-area gangster got inked across his chest, to commemorate the time he shot and killed a rival outside a Pico Rivera liquor store. According to the Los Angeles Times, it was Anthony Garcia's bad luck that the L.A. homicide detective who happened to be going through tattoo pictures once worked as a station sergeant in Pico Rivera, and remembered the case.

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The tattoo shows a peanut getting gunned down by a helicopter outside a liquor store under the banner "Rivera Kills." The detective recognized the distinctive lights on the image of the store and, the Times explains, "In gang slang, the word 'peanut' is used to derisively describe a rival gang member." Garcia, whose nickname is Chopper, belongs to the gang Rivera-13. Another image shows a man (presumably Garcia) holding a Mr. Peanut-looking character in a headlock. Cops went undercover to Garcia's jail cell after they arrested him, and shortly had a confession for the killing, which led to a conviction on first-degree murder.

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And that would be the end of it, but this story deserves a side note for the way it's reported. Crime writing being what it is, the narrative carries a fair amount of disdain for Garcia. But in a departure from the tabloid style of the New York Post or Daily News, which love to characterize suspects and criminals as thugs, toughs, or fiends, reporter Robert Faturechi here pokes fun at Garcia's wimpiness. He refers to the tattoo sprawled across Garcia's "pudgy" chest, and later refers to him as a "delicate, doe-eyed gang member."

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Clearly, Faturechi doesn't think much of Garcia's criminal prowess. And maybe that's appropriate. He did get a really stupid tattoo. But beyond that, this is a somewhat unique case of a paper toning down the scariness of what is often considered fright-journalism gold: The hard-core gangster. As Mark Twain wrote in The Mysterious Stranger, "Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand." Not even peanut killers.

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