ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The last of the four men found guilty in a brutal murder in the Woolen Mills area will now spend 30 years behind bars.

A judge in Albemarle Circuit Court sentenced 24-year-old Jose Luis Escobar-Umana to a total of 95 years in prison, with 65 years suspended:

  • First-degree murder – 40 years, with 25 suspended
  • Murder by mob – 40 years, with 25 suspended
  • Abduction – 10 years, all suspended
  • Criminal street gang participation – 5 years, all suspended

Escobar-Umana entered guilty pleas back in August 2018. He is the fourth MS-13 gang member to be sentenced for killing 24-year-old Marvin Rivera-Guevara. The victim’s body was discovered in Moore’s Creek with more than 100 slash wounds on July 4, 2017. Escobar-Umana admitted to forcing Rivera-Guevara down by the water at gunpoint.

Prosecutors say one of the gang members worked with Rivera-Guevara at a pizza shop, and the group was set off by alleged rival gang sign from the victim. They say the murder helped them gain rank or promotions within the gang.

Escobar-Umana received the most time out of the four involved. Juan Carlos Argueta and Eduardo Zelaya were each given a 25 year sentence, while Walter Antonio Argueta Amaya received 30 years.

All four men will be deported upon the completion of their sentences.


03/08/2019 Release from Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney:

Earlier today, Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Hume Franklin, Jr. sentenced Jose Escobar-Umana to 30 years active incarceration for his participation in the July, 2017 murder of Marvin Joel Rivera-Guevara.

On August 23, 2018, Escobar-Umana entered guilty pleas to all counts charged in the indictment, including first-degree murder, lynching deemed murder in the first degree, abduction, and criminal street gang participation. At the entry of Escobar-Umana’s guilty plea, the court received evidence of the defendant’s conduct that summarized by the commonwealth. In July, 2017, Escobar-Umana traveled with other gang members from Northern Virginia to commit these offenses after being told that the victim made derogatory statements to a local resident and MS-13 gang member.

After being abducted to Woolen Mills and exiting a vehicle, the victim was directed to an abandoned structure by Escobar-Umana at gunpoint. There, he suffered 144 machete and knife lacerations to his face, neck, torso, and limbs before being dumped in the creek. The court received testimony that MS-13 is a violent transnational gang that utilizes extreme, homicidal violence to instill fear and to control gang territory among rivals, and that these offenses were committed to advance the goals of this criminal street gang. The court took judicial notice of the fact this crime was carried out at the benefit and direction of MS-13.

The sentence imposed by the court is summarized as follows:

  • 1st Degree murder in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-32; 15 years active, 25 suspended;
  • 1st Degree lynching deemed murder in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-40; 15 years active; 25 suspended;
  • Abduction in violation of § 18.2-47; 10 years all suspended;
  • Gang participation in violation of § 18.2-46-2; 5 years all suspended.

At sentencing, the commonwealth summarized victim impact statements describing the victim as hardworking, honest and God-fearing. All expressed shock that a crime like this could happen in the United States, and asked the court for “justice not vengeance.”

In addition, because the defendant is a criminal noncitizen subject to deportation following incarceration, the court specified that unlawful re-entry into Virginia or anywhere else in the United States would be considered a violation of good behavior. As a result, if Escobar-Umana unlawfully returns to Albemarle [sic], the Commonwealth of Virginia, or the anywhere in the United States after deportation, he will be deemed to have violated terms of good behavior and the court will to re-impose the balance of suspended time conditioned upon the defendant’s good behavior.

The period of good behavior is 40 years following Escobar-Umana’s release from incarceration.

The Albemarle County Police Department was the lead investigate agency in this case. Law enforcement partners included the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, Safe Streets Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.