By James Cullum (File photo)
An 18-year-old Alexandria man pleaded guilty in Alexandria Circuit Court on Monday for his role in the brutal 2015 murder of 25-year-old Jose Luis Perez Ferman at Beverley Park.
Reinaldo Mauricio Portillo Membreno, who was 17 at the time of the incident, is a member of the MS-13 street gang, and was indicted and convicted as an adult on charges of first-degree murder.
“This conviction brings to a successful close a complicated investigation into a shocking crime,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in a statement. “The residents of the neighborhood in which this offense took place were rightfully shocked to find this level of violence occurring in a children’s playground.
“I wish to highly commend the outstanding police work that brought this investigation to a successful conclusion. The Alexandria Police Department’s criminal investigations section was instrumental in making this case. The detective’s painstaking detective work allowed them to present my office with a very strong case. I would like to publicly commend by name Sgt. Sean Casey for his professional and dedicated service.”
Portillo Membreno, who is currently incarcerated at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, admitted to assisting 21-year-old Alvaro Saenz Castro in stabbing Ferman to death with a machete and knife on the evening of November 8, 2015. Ferman was found nearly decapitated the following morning with 26 total wounds in the North Ridge park, commonly referred to as “The Pit” by neighbors.
Saenz Castro, an MS-13 member who previously pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in May, told investigators that the victim was having an affair with his girlfriend, then-16-year-old Leidi Granados Gutierrez.
Gutierrez, who is not a gang member, admitted to arranging a liaison with Ferman at the park, and was convicted as an adult for concealing and compounding murder. She also pleaded guilty to destroying physical evidence of a felony. She was sentenced last month to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate length of time.
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown congratulated investigators and the Commonwealth’s attorney for their handling of the case.
“Cases like this tend to shock this community, and rightfully so,” Brown said. “We do know that we have a number of gangs that are within the city, and we work with a joint task force to understand their activities across the region. … We have a very safe community, and we work hard to remain so.”