Woman charged with 2002 kidnap, murder pleads not guilty

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 27-year-old woman suspected for her involvement in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of an East Lost Angeles teen pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Tuesday.

Rosemary Chavira was arrested Friday near her home in Lancaster for her role in the death of Brenda Sierra. She was charged with felony murder during the commission of a kidnapping and rape, with gang allegations, authorities said.

At 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 18 2002, Sierra, 15, was walking to a friend's home on her way to school when she was kidnapped in the area of Whittier Boulevard and Leonard Avenue in Montebello. Her body was discovered the next day near the "Valley of Enchantment" area in Crestline in San Bernardino County.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau investigators, Chavira lived in the 500 block of South La Verne Avenue in East Los Angeles at the time of Sierra's kidnap and murder.

Authorities believe Sierra was killed by gang members in retaliation after he brother testified in a drive-by shooting case.

It is believed Chavira played a key role in the crime.

"It's our understanding that she actually was a friend of Brenda at the time and coordinated the kidnap itself. Evidence indicates to us that she was present during the rapes and during the murder," LAPD Lt. Dave Coleman said.

Investigators were able to identify the locations Sierra was taken to before she was killed.

Sierra was taken to a home in the 600 block of Williamson Avenue where she was sexually assaulted, and then an area in the 900 block of Miller Avenue where she was bludgeoned to death.

Her body was later dumped in the Crestline area. At the time her body was discovered, the murder investigation was handled by San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. In April 2008, the investigation was relinquished and handed over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Chavira was 15 years old at the time of Sierra's murder, and if she is convicted she could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1.

Homicide investigators anticipate filing similar charges against three additional male suspects within the next 30 days.

Two of those suspects are currently in custody in connection with other crimes.

Investigators continue to seek the public's help regarding Sierra's kidnap and murder. Anyone with information is asked to contact the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

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