Murderer in Santa Ana Drug Deal Gone Bad Shanks Prison Guard at Chow Time

Dustin Sean Ross McDonald (left) and the late Aaron Jonathan Chavez.
Dustin Sean Ross McDonald (left) and the late Aaron Jonathan Chavez.
Santa Ana Police Department; DMV

A Garden Grove man, who is serving a 114-year sentence for murdering a man in a Santa Ana drug deal gone bad, shanked a prison guard last week, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

As dinner was being served at Wasco State Prison north of Bakersfield on Nov. 23, Dustin Sean Ross McDonald used his fists and a homemade (cellmade?) shank to attack a correctional officer, explains CDCR spokesman Martin Herrera.

While sustaining four puncture wounds to his face and left arm, the guard dropped his baton, which fell to the floor before McDonald picked it up and began swinging it at the unidentified officer, Herrera said.

The guard, who eventually got the baton back and subdued 25-year-old McDonald, was later treated and released at a local hospital, the spokesman said.

McDonald, who also required for treatment of two lacerations, was transferred to another institution, Herrera said.

The prisoner was among those who met at 12th and Main streets in Santa Ana on Aug. 12, 2014, for a drug deal. Around 11:30 that night, McDonald drove an SUV up to a parked sedan with a 21-year-old woman behind the wheel, Aaron Jonathan Chavez in the front passenger seat and a 28-year-old female riding in the back.

McDonald then stepped out of his ride, walked around to the front passenger side of the sedan, pulled out a firearm and fired around 10 shots. The trio inside the sedan were hit multiple times by rounds from McDonald's gun. Chavez, 23, died at the scene. The woman were taken to a local hospital but ultimately survived their injuries.

After surveillance video from the area of the shooting was studied, McDonald was stopped by Santa Ana cops the next evening as he drove near his residence and was arrested.

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Jurors had a tough time reaching a verdict this past June 14 because Chavez was a drug dealer who sold McDonald fake heroin. McDonald claims that when he confronted Chavez about it, Chavez reached for something in the sedan. McDonald, thinking it was a gun, fired first. Knives were later found in the sedan.

That revelation spurred the jury to deadlock a day before finally reaching a consensus, which included rejecting a special circumstances allegation that could have set McDonald up for the death penalty, at worst, and life in prison without the possibility of parole, at best.


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