- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A 17-year-old pregnant teenager who once belonged to the most violent gang in Northern Virginia was stabbed at least 16 times in July 2003, a medical examiner testified yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Brenda “Smiley” Paz also suffered several slashes on her left forearm, right thumb and right thigh, indicating that she tried to fight off her attackers, Dr. Carolyn Revercomb told a jury yesterday during the third day of testimony in the trial of four Mara Salvatrucha gang members charged with killing Miss Paz.

“There were 16 stab wounds, at least; five to the left chest,” Dr. Revercomb testified.

Dr. Revercomb also told the jury that Miss Paz’s 16-week-old male fetus did not survive the attack.

Federal prosecutors say Oscar Alexander Garcia-Orellana, 31; Oscar Antonio Grande, 21; and Ismael Juarez Cisneros, 25, killed Miss Paz on July 13, 2003, at the direction of Denis Rivera, 20, who was in jail awaiting trial in the slaying of a rival gang member.

Prosecutors contend the four men knew that Miss Paz was talking to police and that she was going to be a witness in Mr. Rivera’s murder trial. The four men are members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, the largest and most violent street gang in Northern Virginia.

Each man is charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty.

During testimony early yesterday, former roommate Michelle Myers, 20, told the jury she overheard Miss Paz telling an MS-13 member that she was pregnant. Miss Myers said the gang member responded that Miss Paz “better be pregnant, or he would kill” her.

Miss Myers told the jury that Miss Paz readily accepted her as a roommate in 2002, when Miss Paz was in a witness protection safe house in Maryland.

“I told her I was a runaway,” Miss Myers testified. “She said she was a runaway, too.”

Earlier testimony showed that Miss Paz had been an MS-13 gang member for about four years before she was killed.

Yesterday, Miss Myers told the jury that Miss Paz was often visited by her friends. “It was a MS hangout,” she testified.

Shenandoah County Deputy Sheriff Scott Proctor testified that fishermen found Miss Paz’s body July 17, 2003, at the foot of a 25-foot rock on the shore of the Shenandoah River.

“You could smell the odor of decomposing flesh,” Deputy Proctor told the 18-member jury. “It had already started turning black,” but that her tattoos that covered much of her body were still visible.

Deputy Sheriff Proctor told the jury what looked like Miss Paz’s shoe and right handprints were found in the river mud a few feet from the body.

In fall 2002, authorities assigned Miss Paz to the Witness Protection Program and moved her to a safe house in Maryland.

Several government witnesses told jurors on Tuesday that Miss Paz was bored at the safe house and broke rules against having parties and guests. Miss Paz was moved to different locations before she returned to Northern Virginia in mid-2003, the witnesses said.

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