United States

Man Charged With Killing Teen at Bus Stop Enters Alford Plea

The man charged with shooting and killing a teenage boy at a school bus stop in Loudoun County in 2015 was convicted Wednesday. 

Jose Miguel Espinosa De Dios was 17 when he was charged with the death of Danny Centeno Miranda. On Wednesday, the 19 year old entered two Alford pleas for first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. 

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges sufficient evidence for a conviction.

Miranda, a 17-year-old sophomore at Park View High School, was walking to a school bus stop in Sterling, Virginia, Sept. 4, 2015, when he was shot in the back twice. The teen was rushed from his neighborhood to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Police said Espinosa De Dios and Miranda were members of rival gangs. 

Espinosa De Dios was identified as the gunman the same day as the shooting, and police found him at his home. Investigators found the murder weapon inside Espinosa De Dios' freezer, wrapped in foil inside a carryout food container.

Espinosa De Dios initially denied being involved in the shooting, but he later admitted to shooting Miranda, prosecutors said in a press release Wednesday. 

Two other men were also charged in connection with Miranda's death. 

Henry Ernesto Dominguez Vasquez and Juan Moises Aguirre Zelaya, lived in the same townhouse complex as Miranda, who moved to the U.S. from El Salvador in late 2013 to escape danger in his home country and live with his aunt, uncle and cousins, his devastated family said in 2015.

Zelaya admitted to throwing away shell casings, and Espinosa De Dios used Vasquez' cell phone to call gang leaders in El Salvador to tell them what they had done, police said.

Vasquez and Zelaya were arrested the day after the homicide and charged with accessory after a homicide and possession of a firearm while an unlawful alien.

Both men later pleaded guilty. 

Espinosa De Dios faces up to 38 years in prison. He will be sentenced June 12. 

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