Parole was denied for a Turlock man convicted more than two decades ago for fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy in an act of targeted gang violence, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Robert Aguilera Moreno, 46, of Turlock was an active member of the Surenos gang when he shot and killed Juan Pinon, 17, of Delhi outside Nino’s Market in Turlock on March 4, 1999. The shooting followed an altercation between Surenos, including Moreno, and Nortenos — their rivals — earlier that day in a Turlock neighborhood near the market.
Moreno was with a group of men outside a Turlock residence when a car drove slowly up to the house and the occupants yelled out “scraps” (an insult for Surenos) and “north side” (a territorial claim for Nortenos). The occupants then threw bottles and rocks at Moreno and the others. Moreno grabbed a bat and was approaching the car, which by that time had stopped and the occupants were getting out. Insults and threats were exchanged and then Moreno flung the bat and shattered the windshield, according to the court records.
Moreno went to his home and got a rifle and said he was going to “shoot their asses.”
Word spread that the vehicle from the earlier incident was parked outside Nino’s Market and Moreno, along with 10 to 12 others armed with sticks and bats, went to the bat.
Pinon was at the market with three other friends. They had already entered the store when he realized he left his wallet in the car and returned to the vehicle to get it, trailed by his friends. Outside, they were confronted by the group and Moreno pointed the rifle at Pinon and fired multiple shots, striking him three times in the head and face, according to the district attorney’s office.
Moreno fired additional shots as he chased after the other three men, who took cover inside the store.
Pinon left behind a girlfriend who was eight months pregnant, parents, numerous siblings and extended family members.
In March of 2000, a jury found Moreno guilty of first-degree murder, intentional use of a firearm, and aiding a criminal street gang. He was sentenced to 52 years-to-life in state prison.
A prison psychologist who examined Moreno prior to the parole hearing gave the opinion that he currently posed a moderate risk for future violence if he were to be released into the community. Moreno remained an active member of gangs while in prison up until he disassociated from the Surenos in 2019, and the psychologist stated “he was still vulnerable to the influence of criminally oriented peers due to his loyalty to his gang and the gang lifestyle,” said district attorney’s office spokesman Chief Deputy Wendell Emerson.
Deputy District Attorney Holly MacKinnon appeared on behalf of the People and asked the Board to deny parole, due to Moreno’s very recent gang association. She argued the brutality and callousness of his life crime combined with his lack of sufficient insight into why he suddenly and viciously killed a young man made him a current unreasonable risk of danger to the community if he were to be released from prison.
Juan Pinon’s family members appeared at Moreno’s parole hearing and gave statements to the Board pleading for his continued confinement. They shared the traumatic impact the murder had on their entire extended family, Emerson said.
After deliberations, the Board denied release for three years.
“The Board gave great weight to youthful offender factors due to the fact that Moreno was 21-years-old at the time of the crime,” Emerson said in a released statement. “The Board stated Moreno had shown progress in some areas, but he had not sufficiently internalized his programming. The Board felt his programming had not been sustained for a sufficient period of time given the callousness of his crime and his lack of insight into how he could violently murder Juan Pinon who had previously prevented others attacking Moreno when Moreno’s son was present. The Board encouraged Moreno to develop a more sufficient relapse prevention plan and to continue to participate in vocational and self-help programming.”
This was Moreno’s first parole hearing. He will be eligible for another parole hearing in 2026 although that date may be advanced based upon a change in circumstances.