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Mercedes driver suspected of killing 3 women in California Uber crash was on probation tied to 2020 murder case

Mercedes driver suspected of killing 3 women in California Uber crash was on probation tied to 2020 murder case

The man believed to be behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz that plowed into an Uber in South Los Angeles over the weekend, killing two Orange County sisters and their lifelong friend, was on probation tied to a 2020 murder case in Compton, according to court records.

Gregory James Black, Jr. was arrested quickly after the early morning, two-car crash at Vermont Avenue and Century Boulevard on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Black, 31, of Los Angeles, was still inside the Mercedes after allegedly T-boning the Honda sedan operating as an Uber. LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno said Wednesday, Aug. 30 that the Mercedes hit the Honda with enough force to send the sedan spinning “five times, counterclockwise,” before slamming into a wall.

The three women — sisters Kimberly Izquierdo, 27, and Veronica Amezola, 23, both of Santa Ana, and their friend, Juvelyn Arroyo, 23, of San Juan Capistrano — all were sitting in the rear passenger seat. All died at the scene, Moreno said. A male passenger suffered bruising to his leg and other injuries to his chest and arms, and was still recovering, police said. The driver, a woman, was left with a fractured neck, ribs and massive head trauma.

Black was also injured in the crash, and was arrested after he was discharged from the hospital, Moreno said. He was arraigned Tuesday on three charges of vehicular manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty, court records showed.

Moreno said he obtained video of Black’s car before the crash showing the driver speeding north along Vermont, running red lights. He described the driver as “playing roulette” as he careened down the road past other cars, likely speeding over 100 miles per hour. He said the extreme speed led to a horrifically violent crash.

“That scene was just horrible,” said Moreno. “Just seeing all the casualties — it looked like a bomb went off.”

Moreno described Black as “a well-known gang member” with a long criminal history. He said Black was still on probation at the time of the crash, but Moreno said he did not know the details of the 2020 case.

Court records show Black was one of four defendants in that case. The others were Kenneth Bragg, Catrina Briggs-Bradley and Horace Dwayne Shanklin, Jr.

Details of the case were not immediately available Wednesday, but the records indicated the charges were related to a drive-by shooting on May 20, 2020 in Los Angeles County.

All four were arrested and initially charged with murder in July 2020 at the Compton Courthouse, court records show. There was no information Wednesday about who the victims in that shooting were.

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Those murder charges were eventually dropped, however. By Fall 2021, Briggs-Bradley and Bragg had pleaded no contest to one count each of voluntary manslaughter. Briggs-Bradley was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, and Bragg was sentenced to 21 years.

Shanklin is still on trial in another L.A. County Superior Court District.

Black pleaded no contest to one count of attempted murder in 2021. But he was only sentenced to five years of probation.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said that besides vehicular manslaughter charges for Black, he faces special allegations of two or more prior felony convictions and aggravated circumstances of great bodily injury.

Fundraisers for the families of the three women killed Saturday are planned in Santa Ana and Riverside to help pay for their funerals.