The California killer was released after just eight years of a life sentence thanks to the policies of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, and is now facing charges of killing a homeless man.
Victor Bibiano, 30, was arrested last month for the April 16 murder of Mario Rodriguez, 42, who was found shot to death in a homeless camp in Pacoima.
The murder came less than a year after Bibiano’s release from prison, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Bibiano was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for double homicide under special circumstances, attempted murder and shooting at an apartment building, and gun and gang amplification.
He was 17 years old in 2012 when he and two other men were convicted in adult court for the 2009 murder of two members of a rival gang and the attempted murder of a third.
Due to Proposition 57, which was approved by voters in 2016, Bibiano, who was a minor at the time of sentencing, was eligible for a transfer hearing to juvenile court to determine if he should be tried again as an adult, according to the report.
In 2020, Bibiano’s conviction was vacated under Proposition 57 and his case was sent to juvenile court pending a transfer hearing. But when Gascon became district attorney in December, he immediately barred defendants from trying again in adult court for crimes committed as minors.
In May 2021, Alice Blair, Gascon’s special assistant, appeared in juvenile court on his behalf and informed the judge that prosecutors would not be involved in the transfer hearing.
Cathy Cady, acting as a spokesperson for one victim’s family, told the newspaper that, according to an office memo from the District Attorney’s Division of Litigation and Appeals, California law requires the court to hold a referral hearing.
The juvenile system does not hold anyone over the age of 26, and since Bibiano was in his 20s by then, the judge who heard his case had no choice but to release him.
In a statement published by the publication, Gascon argued that his office could not seek a transfer to adult court unless it could prove that Bibiano was not using juvenile rehabilitation services at the time he committed his crimes.
“Given that Bibiano had no previous convictions for murder, he had no serious offenses in prison, and he provided other confidential extenuating information, we decided we could not handle this burden,” the district attorney said.
Gascon also pointed out that evidence suggests that Bibiano “did not personally shoot or kill” Rodriguez in April.
“We express our deepest condolences to the families of Mario Rodriguez,” he said, adding that the transitional man was killed during a robbery and drug deal.
The report comes against the backdrop of a campaign to recall a first-term district attorney after what critics called it a crime-soft policy.
Gascon came under fire last week when Justin William Flores allegedly killed two El Monte cops while on probation after being allowed out of a drug and gun possession contest.
Gascon defended his office’s approach to the Flores case, arguing that his previous history contained no evidence of violence.
In a statement to the Los Angles Daily News regarding the Bibiano case, Gascon acknowledged the wave of anger directed at his policies.
“I know people are angry and I am angry too,” he said. “But we cannot use individual tragedies to create politics. The failure of one person cannot make us doubt the potential of everyone else. In other Los Angeles cases where juveniles previously sentenced to life imprisonment were released, including Mr. Bibiano’s original co-defendant, the results have been overwhelmingly positive.”
Gascon also stated that he was not going to “play politics with this or any other tragedy”.