SANTA ANA (CBS) — A 20-year-old Garden Grove gang member whose stray bullet wounded an Army sergeant on leave from the Afghanistan war was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison on Friday.
KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports
Adrian Arroyo could have faced up to 50 years to life in prison, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Carla Singer settled on a term that will allow Arroyo to get his first parole hearing when he is about 50 years old, Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos said.
The Army sergeant, Armando Escobar, 25, was hit in his face by gunfire as he played with his 10-year-old sister in the front yard of their Garden Grove home.
“He’s been shot at in Afghanistan and the Middle East and the only time he’s been hit was when he was with his 10-year-old sister in the front yard,” Chrisopoulos said.
On May 27, an Orange County jury found Arroyo guilty of two felony counts of attempted murder, a felony count of participating in a street gang and carrying a loaded firearm in public and a felony count of street terrorism.
Arroyo was given credit for serving about three years in custody so far.
Arroyo wasn’t aiming at the Army sergeant on May 11, 2007, but he and another gang member, Oscar Torres, were shooting at rival gangsters, the prosecutor said.
“He went and committed this crime for a gang retaliation, and it’s the type of crime that didn’t happen in an abandoned alleyway or in the middle of the night,” Chrisopoulos said.
“He chose to exact revenge at 6 p.m. on a busy residential street as the neighbors were coming home for the day and others were playing in the front yard, and he decided to commit this attempted murder without consideration for other residents.”
The sergeant was on leave at the time and was enjoying a family barbecue, Chrisopoulos said. Escobar has not fully recovered from the bullet wound, the prosecutor said.
“His nose is still very sensitive,” Chrisopoulos said, adding it hurts when he bumps it or sneezes.
Chrisopoulos said the shooting was prompted when Arroyo was jumped by rival gang members as he walked on Amy Avenue in Garden Grove May 11, 2007.
Arroyo got away and went home, but he and Torres returned to the neighborhood later to get revenge.
The two found their targets on Amy Avenue about 6 p.m. and opened fire on them, Chrisopoulos said. But they missed their mark and only hit Escobar.
Arroyo, who was 17 at the time, was arrested Sept. 11, 2007, and charged as an adult. Torres, at the same time, had been sentenced to eight years and eight months in state prison for another unrelated gang-related shooting and was not charged in connection with this shooting, Chrisopoulos said.
Torres was left paralyzed in that shooting.
Escobar did not attend today’s hearing and Arroyo did not say anything to the judge on his behalf. But Arroyo’s mother and aunt made statements for him.
Arroyo has continued his education while in custody, his attorney Glenn Osajima said.
“He was a minor at the time and he used bad judgment,” Osajima said.
“Unfortunately, the way the gang statutes are now it’s a life sentence even if it’s attempted murder. That’s about all I can say.”
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