WASHINGTON — A Fairfax County jury returned the first conviction in the killing of a teenage girl on Tuesday against an MS-13 gang member.
Investigators have charged 10 people in the killing of 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas. Wilmer Sanchez-Serrano, 21, of Virginia, was found guilty of second-degree murder, abduction and gang participation.
After hearing testimony and seeing the video, the jury returned the guilty verdict.
Jurors also recommended that Sanchez-Serrano be sentenced to 33 years in prison. He could face up to 60 years when he is sentenced in March.
Sanchez-Serrano pleaded not guilty to taking part in the MS-13 gang killing of Reyes Rivas.
Cell phone video of the murder in a Springfield industrial park shows Sanchez-Serrano walking up to the still-breathing teen and stabbing her in the neck with a stake, Fairfax County State’s Attorney Ray Morrogh said.
Morrogh said the trial was emotional.
Rivas’s mother lamented over her decision not to take a picture of her daughter in her quinceañera dress, which she never got to wear in celebration. Instead, the teenager was buried in it.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Morrogh said.
Sanchez-Serrano is one of five people going to trial in her death. He has an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer held on him, but won’t be deported until after he has served his prison time.
Reyes Rivas’ body was found in February.