MS-13 member sentenced for machete murder in which victim had 144 lacerations

A 21-year-old MS-13 member from El Salvador was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for his role in the gang-related slaying of a Virginia man who was hacked to death with a machete last year.

Walter Antonio Argueta Amaya was sentenced to 15 years for first-degree murder and 15 years for murder by lynching in the brutal killing of 24-year-old Marvin Joel Rivera Guevara, the Daily Progress reported. The sentences will be served consecutively.

Police found Guevara’s mutilated body in Moore’s Creek near the Woolen Mills neighborhood in Scottsville in July 2017.

Amaya, who is in the country illegally, is one of the MS-13 gang members who pleaded guilty to brutally killing Guevara. He will be eligible for deportation upon release from prison.

According to court documents, Guevara was also an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador but was not associated with any gang. He was targeted by the gang because he made a comment disparaging the notorious gang to a fellow employee – who also happened to be an MS-13 member in the country illegally – while working at a Charlottesville restaurant.

The night of his death, Guevara drove with his work colleague, 19-year-old Juan Carlos Argueta, because he believed they were meeting a woman, the newspaper reported.

Instead, the pair met Jose Luis Escobar-Umana, 23, and Juan Carlos Zelaya, 19, — both of whom are El Salvadoran nationals and in the country illegally.

Police said Escobar-Umana forced Guevara at gunpoint to walk toward a creek before striking him with a machete.

Guevara suffered more than 140 laceration wounds to his head, neck, body and limbs. The attack reportedly left him unrecognizable, the newspaper reported, and Guevara had to be identified by his DNA.

Escobar-Umana pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and lynching. He is scheduled for sentencing next week.

Zelaya and Argueta both pleaded guilty to gang participation and lynching in exchange for dropping the first-degree murder and abduction charges. Their sentencings are scheduled for February 2019.

In Virginia, the lynching statute allows murder charges to be filed against every person involved in a mob, group or gang action that inflicts violence on another person resulting in death. It’s the first time the statute has been used in Albemarle County, prosecutors said.

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