SANTA ANA ( — A man pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter in a case where the victim died 15 years after being shot.

Daniel Paul Cruz, 37, was sentenced to 17 years in prison after entering his plea.

He took part in a Santa Ana gang shooting in 1994 that left his victim paralyzed and in poor health for the next 15 years.

A charge of murder was dismissed but Cruz agreed to also plead guilty to two  sentence-enhancing allegations — being a gang member and being armed with a weapon in the commission of a felony.

Cruz’s guilty plea involved the Sept. 29, 1994 shooting of then-19-year-old Scott Sittler, who died in February 2009.

In 1996, co-defendant Erwin Johnny Sanchez pleaded guilty to attempted murder in connection with the Sittler attack and was sentenced to 20 years. A murder charge was filed against him upon Sittler’s death, and he was convicted and sentenced in January 2012 to 29 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors are seeking to extradite his brother from Guatemala to face a murder charge.

After the shooting, Sittler “lived a miserable life” with paralysis and dependence on a respirator, Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller said.

 (©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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