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Montebello man convicted of murdering ex-girlfriend, her father and her brother

A Montebello man was convicted today of murdering his ex- girlfriend, her father and her brother during an early morning shooting rampage in Hawaiian Gardens in May 2010.

A jury found Joseph Mercado, 31, guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for the May 6, 2010, killings of his ex-girlfriend, Serena Tarin, 23; her father, Alfredo Tarin, 53; and her brother, Alfred Tarin, 19. He also was convicted on three counts of attempted murder and one count each of first-degree burglary with a person present, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, child abuse and arson of an inhabited structure. 

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder while lying in wait and arson during the commission of a murder, making Mercado eligible for a potential death sentence. Jurors acquitted him of one count of assault with a machine gun or assault rifle on a peace officer. 

The jury is due back in court Friday for the start of the trial’s penalty phase, in which the panel will be asked to recommend whether Mercado should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Authorities said shortly after the crime that Mercado was involved in a child custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend and tried to set the home on fire. 

Mercado then broke into the back of the home and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing Serena Tarin, the mother of his young son, and her father and brother, prosecutors said.

Two others, including Tarin’s mother, were wounded. About a half-dozen other family members escaped, with some hiding on the roof. He was shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy as he emerged from the home that morning.

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