One MS-13 member clicked a cigar cutter open and closed with a metallic ring, while another told the 15-year-old they would cut her fingers off, the prosecutor said. Another gang member asked where the gasoline was so they could burn the girl up.
Ten members and associates of MS-13 lured Damaris A. Reyes Rivas to a Springfield park in January because they wanted revenge. They blamed the Gaithersburg teen for the death of their clique’s leader, Christian Sosa Rivas, whose body had been dumped in the Potomac about a week earlier.
Venus Romero Iraheta, 17, who was Sosa Rivas’s girlfriend, told Damaris her fate would be the same.
“Venus told her she was going to die that day as Christian did — in the cold,” Fairfax County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Katherine Stott said in a Fairfax County courtroom Tuesday.
Damaris was forced to strip off her shirt and shoes and stand in the snow in frigid weather.
Stott then recounted the ruthless slaying of Damaris, whose killing, along with that of Sosa Rivas and the abduction of another teen, has led to the arrests of 18 young people and highlighted the resurgence of MS-13, the region’s largest and most violent gang.
Damaris’s killers were remorseless, capturing her final minutes in gruesome cellphone videos.
The chilling recitation came as three associates of MS-13 pleaded guilty to charges in Fairfax related to Damaris’s killing, the first convictions in a case that grabbed headlines locally and nationally.
Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 19, of Reston and Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, 18, and Emerson Fugon Lopez, 17, both of Springfield, entered pleas to abduction and, in two cases, gang participation, as part of deals with prosecutors. They face up to 20 or 30 years in prison when they are sentenced May 11.
Attorneys for all three defendants said in court that their clients did not directly participate in Damaris’s slaying or did not know of the plans to kill her.
Court records show all are slated to be witnesses in the upcoming trials of three other defendants charged directly in Damaris’s killing. All 10 defendants in the case are young — between 15 and 21.
Stott said the plot to kill Damaris began Jan. 8 when Jose Castillo Rivas, who is charged with murder in the case, picked up Damaris and drove her to Springfield’s Lake Accotink Park. Damaris thought she was going to smoke marijuana, but the other MS-13 members and associates were waiting for her.
Rivas, Iraheta — also charged with murder — and other male members of the gang allegedly took Damaris into the woods and began interrogating her about Sosa Rivas’s killing. Damaris was questioned about a rival MS-13 leader who was thought to have orchestrated Sosa Rivas’s slaying. Stott said Damaris offered to deliver him to the gang members.
At an earlier hearing in the case, FBI special agent Fernando Uribe testified that Damaris acknowledged that she’d had a sexual relationship with Sosa Rivas.
Sosa Rivas was slain around New Year’s Eve in a Dumfries, Va., park after allegedly being lured there by an ex-girlfriend, according to a federal indictment in the case that does not name the former girlfriend. Sosa Rivas was stabbed and beaten with machetes, rocks and tree branches before his body was sunk in the Potomac River, according to the indictment.
Federal prosecutors said gang members brought Pine Sol to clean their machetes and that the killing was approved by leaders of the transnational gang in El Salvador. Eight people have been charged in that case.
After Damaris’s interrogation in the Springfield park, the group drove her to a location nearby, Stott said. Damaris was again taken into the woods. Stott said all 10 of the MS-13 members and associates attacked Damaris by punching and kicking her and hitting her with sticks.
Iraheta, who is charged as an adult, then confronted Damaris a final time, Uribe testified at the earlier hearing. Iraheta cut a dollar-sign tattoo, which Sosa Rivas had given her, off Damaris’s hand.
Iraheta then listed her full name so Damaris would know the name of her killer, Uribe testified.
“[Venus] told the victim she would never forgive her and would see her in hell,” Uribe told a judge.
Then, Iraheta allegedly plunged a knife into the teen 13 times.
She is scheduled to stand trial on a murder charge in January.
Two other MS-13 members jabbed a sharpened stick into Damaris’s neck, Stott said. The attack, which was filmed on cellphones, showed Damaris bleeding amid dead leaves in the woods, according to a search warrant filed in the case.
Authorities allege that Jose Torres Cerrato, 17, another MS-13 associate charged with murder, hoped to send the video back to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador as proof of his willingness to do the bidding of the gang. Damaris’s killing was also “greenlighted” by gang leaders there, and Cerrato was promoted after Damaris’s killing, authorities said.
Stott said some members of MS-13 returned to the location where Damaris was killed later that night. They dragged her body beneath a Beltway overpass, placing her facedown in a puddle. They stacked railroad ties on her body.
The killing was not the end of the mayhem. Stott said that two days later, Cindy Blanco Hernandez, Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, Iraheta and others participated in the abduction of 16-year-old Lizzy Colindres of Springfield.
Jose Castillo Rivas, a suspect in Damaris's killing and the father of Colindres's 5-month-old son, was set to appear in court on a charge that he violated a protective order Colindres took out against him. Stott said the group threatened Colindres with death if she did not drop the charge and turn over her son to Rivas.
Colindres and her family eventually went to police.
Damaris’s slaying was discovered after investigators in Prince William County found the videos of her killing while probing Sosa Rivas’s death.
Stott said authorities were able to locate Damaris's body because Cerrato participated in the killing while wearing a court-ordered electronic ankle monitor that recorded his location on the day of Damaris's slaying.
Damaris’s mother told The Washington Post this year that her daughter went missing in mid-December and had come under the sway of MS-13. Maria Reyes said she had brought Damaris to the United States from her native El Salvador in the hopes of escaping such gang violence.
The other trials in the case are scheduled for later this year and early next year.