Trial set for accused street gang members  

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Two men accused of attacking a fellow gang member are set to face a trial by jury. 

Trial was set for March 18-20 for Nickolas Roberto Rojas, 25, and Andy Garcia, 22, who are charged in connection to the Oct. 9 robbery and brutal attack on Floyd Harbele, also an admitted member of the Sioc Street Norteños.

Rojas and Garcia are charged with multiple felonies, including second degree robbery with special allegations of street terrorism, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, and committing serious crimes while having prior felony convictions. 

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Rojas and Garcia have long criminal histories, according to court records, and have five other cases pending between them, including violations of the terms of their probation or parole. 

Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson said all the cases would be heard during their scheduled trial dates. 

Investigators said at a preliminary hearing in November that Rojas, Garcia, and the victim, Donny Haberle, are admitted Norteños and that the attack may have been an exercise in Garcia’s territorial and social control over the gang, many who have known each other since they were children. 

Haberle previously testified he was walking with Rojas in the alley off Sioc Street around midnight on Oct. 9, when he heard a whistle he recognized as a gang call behind him. 

Haberle, who was reluctant to identify his attackers in court, said Rojas hit him after he turned toward the whistler, kicked him, held him down, and beat him in the face, while Garcia, whose voice he recognized as the whistler, participated in the beating. 

Harbele said he believed Garcia used the knife Harbele was carrying to seriously cut Harbele’s ear, which required numerous stitches. Although Harbele testified he did not see Garcia’s face, he said he heard Garcia issue a warning into his ear as the cutting occurred. 

Harbele said the attack likely stemmed from him getting the Sioc gang tattoo without Garcia’s explicit permission but from another member of the gang. 

Separate attorneys represent the two defendants, with Rojas’ attorney already considering a plea deal. 

It’s likely both men will attempt to avoid sentencing enhancements by pleading to specific or lesser charges relating to the attack.  

Enhancements for gang-related crimes such as street terrorism, could add, at the court’s discretion, two to four years to a sentence, as do special allegations of being prior convicted felons.  

Rojas is facing up to 12 criminal enhancements in this case. Garcia, who is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon and mayhem, is facing four criminal enhancements. ■