Accused MS-13 gang member found guilty in connection with teen’s 2017 murder in Bedford County

Josue Coreas-Ventura was part of the group that killed Raymond Wood

The trial for an accused MS-13 gang member charged in connection with the murder of a teenage boy in Bedford County is now finished.

BEDFORD, Va. – The trial for an accused MS-13 gang member charged in connection with the murder of a teenage boy in Bedford County is now finished.

After five days of trial, jurors in Bedford Circuit Court found Josue Coreas-Ventura guilty of both charges he faced: aggravated murder and abduction for pecuniary benefit.

It’s been almost five years since the brutal murder of a Lynchburg teenager, Raymond Wood, made national headlines in 2017.

During closing arguments Monday, the prosecution claimed the 17-year-old was murdered for being “a barrier to the goal” as MS-13 tried to make Lynchburg their territory to sell marijuana and cocaine; and also said the defendant asked for other alleged gang members to help him kill Wood, as he supplied the knife and gloves used.

The defense said the defendant is guilty of murder and abduction, but asked the jury to pay attention to the details of the charges and claimed that no one was extorted, so it should be first-degree instead of aggravated murder.

Bedford Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said while both charges carry the possibility of life in prison, they want justice for Wood.

“It was very important to the Commonwealth and to Raymond’s family to charge this to the fullest extent of the law. And to have that response from the jurors, to have that verdict from the jurors, puts us in a very good place to make sure that Coreas-Ventura never threatens another individual for the rest of his natural life,” said Nance.

During the trial, a variety of witnesses took the stand, including Wood’s mother, other MS-13 gang members and a Virginia State Police special agent.

On Thursday, one alleged gang member testified that Coreas-Ventura was part of the group that arrived at Wood’s home, beat him and then drove him to Bedford County as Coreas-Ventura choked Wood unconscious.

Coreas-Ventura has another pending charge, which Nance said may or may not go to trial.

The sentencing will be set for a later date.


About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.