Gang Member Gets 35 Years for Sterling Murder

The man convicted in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Park View High School student near a Sterling bus stop in 2015 will serve 35 years in prison.

Jose Miguel Espinosa De Dios, who is 19 years old but was 17 at the time of the shooting, had entered Alford pleas of guilty to first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the shooting death of Danny Centeno-Miranda as he walked to the school bus stop on the morning of Sept. 4, 2015. The Alford plea permits the defendant to maintain a claim of innocence while acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

According to testimony in prior hearings, Espinosa De Dios was a MS-13 gang member known as “the Mexican” or “the enforcer” in Sterling. He allegedly shot Centeno-Miranda twice in the back. Centeno-Miranda was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died.

Espinosa de Dios faced a sentence of 20 years to life in prison on the first-degree murder conviction and a mandatory three-year sentence on the conviction of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. As part of the plea agreement, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office agreed to drop prosecution of two other charges—shooting in the commission of a felony and gang participation.

In addition to the murder sentence, Espinosa De Dios was fined $25,000 fine for the use of a firearm during the murder and required to serve three years on the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He will serve three years of post-release supervision for both charges.

Two others were charged in the case.

Henry Ernesto Dominguez-Vazquez pleaded guilty last year to a charge of accessory to murder after the fact. The charge was reduced by prosecutors from a felony to a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison. A charge of accessory to murder against a third suspect, Dominguez-Vazquez’s brother Juan Moiser Aguirre Zelaya, ultimately was dropped.

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