A Santa Ana man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for murdering an addict who stole cocaine from the defendant prosecutors described as a street dealer.
Guadalupe Serna, 30, had been found guilty by a jury Sept. 30, 2009, of one felony count of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.
Ryan Todd had just been released from jail on Jan. 20, 2005, when he had a cab driver take him to Walnut Street in Santa Ana. There, Todd got out of the cab, swiped cocaine from Serna and ran back to the car yelling "Go, go, go!" as he was being chased. But Serna pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at the cab, and one bullet struck Todd in the torso. The cabbie sped Todd to a hospital, where the new father of a three-week-old died.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the conviction follows after the jump . . .
May 21, 2010
DRUG DEALER SENTENCED TO 50 YEARS TO LIFE FOR SHOOTING AND MURDERING MAN THROUGH CAB WINDOW AFTER VICTIM STOLE COCAINE AND ATTEMPTED TO FLEE
SANTA ANA - A Santa Ana drug dealer was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for shooting and murdering a man through the window of a cab after the victim stole cocaine from the defendant and attempted to flee. Guadalupe Serna, 30, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury Sept. 30, 2009, of one felony count of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.
On Jan. 20, 2005, Ryan Todd was released from jail in Orange County after being incarcerated for stealing his uncle's car. The victim, who had a history of using narcotics, was driven in a cab to meet his mother at a Costa Mesa hotel. His mother planned to then send him to a drug rehabilitation clinic.
Instead of going to the hotel as planned, the victim instructed the cab driver to take him to Walnut Street in Santa Ana with the intention of obtaining cocaine. When the cab reached Todd's destination on Walnut Street, the victim got out of the car. The victim stole cocaine from Serna, a drug dealer, and then ran back to the car yelling "Go, go, go!" as Serna chased him.
As the cab pulled away, Serna pulled out a firearm and fired several shots at the window, shattering the glass. Serna hit Todd one time with a bullet to the torso. The cab driver drove Todd to the hospital, where he died. The victim had become a new father just three weeks earlier.
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Responding police officers found cocaine on the seat where Todd had been sitting in the cab. The cab driver led police back to the scene of the crime, where they collected evidence, including beer bottles that had been left on the street.
Approximately two months later, Serna was arrested for a drug related charge and was found to be in possession of a firearm, which was later matched to the firearm used in the murder of Todd. Subsequently, Serna's DNA was taken and matched to the DNA on the beer bottles found at the scene.
During the sentencing today, Ryan Todd's mother gave a victim impact statement. She said that her son was raised with love but killed with murder. She remembered her son as a great dad and step-father who was overcome by addiction. She also told the court that she thinks about him every day.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.