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Death penalty sought in Bethlehem's Puerto Rican Beneficial Society shooting

Yolanda Morales caught in the crossfire, police say

EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County prosecutors announced Thursday they're seeking the death penalty in the case of a deadly shoot-out.

The incident left Yolanda Morales, 23, dead and others wounded outside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society in Bethlehem early Sunday morning December 3rd.

According to investigators, a fight inside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society on East Third Street poured out into the streets and guns were drawn.

Morales got caught in the crossfire and died, five other men including Javier Rivera Alvarado and 32-year-old Rene Figueroa were wounded and were later charged.

Investigators now say Figueroa, who's accused of shooting Morales, could face the death penalty as the result of two aggravating factors.

"The first is that the shooters put other people in danger so when someone commits a murder if other people who are innocent bystanders could have been injured because of the spray of bullets, that is considered an aggravating factor under our law and warrants potentially a death sentence" said Northampton County District Attorney, John Morganelli.

The other factor is that Morales was killed while Figueroa was allegedly shooting at someone else, another felony.

"This is not an easy case, there's lot of witnesses that have different versions of what happened but it is our obligation to establish the case beyond a reasonable doubt," said Morganelli

Figueroa is the only one who faces homicide charges in this case however he and Alvarado both face several charges including aggravated assault and attempted homicide.

A trial date has not been set.


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