You can't help but note Andrew Aguilar's audacity.
At the age of 18 in August 2008, the Anaheim gangster and a fellow hoodlum decided to terrorize their neighborhood.
The two members of the turf-happy South Side Krooks (SSK) criminal street gang approached two other men who'd just finished cleaning up from their car wash business and uttered the phrase of punks: "Where you from?"
Of course, the question had nothing to do with place of birth, but is lowlife street code seeking the name of a gang a person has joined.
Like most productive citizens, the two cars washers didn't belong to a gang and so they remained silent.
To help prove his toughness and inadvertently his stupidity, Aguilar continued to taunt the men. "Fuck you, mother fuckers," he barked, according to court records. "Fuck you, bitches. This is my neighborhood."
Aguilar then pulled a black handgun from his waistband and from a distance of just 20 feet pointed the weapon at the chest of one of the workers. He fired the gun, missed, ran down the street and jumped over a fence with his pal. After looking at a photographic lineup, one of the victims identified Aguilar as the shooter.
On the ball Anaheim Police Department patrol officers noticed the suspect walking down a street. The hoodlum fled through an apartment complex but was eventually captured. Chasing officers claim they recovered a discarded handgun--the weapon used at the car wash crime scene, according to a crime lab ballistics report.
During the 30 months between the crime and his trial, Aguilar didn't tell anyone that he had a defense--not even his own defense lawyer. But by the time of his trial, a story emerged. His father, stepmother and cousin's wife testified that their sweet, adorable loved one couldn't have committed the crime because he had been at home sick when the shot was fired.
For some reason, an Orange County jury didn't believe their alibi attempt and Superior Court Judge Richard W. Stanford sentenced Aguilar to prison.
The gangster appealed his convictions: attempted murder, carrying an unregistered gun in public, street terrorism and gang membership.
In Aguilar's mind, he can't be guilty of attempted murder because the prosecution presented no evidence that he intended to kill. Stated differently, he believes the only way to prove he'd meant to kill was if he'd actually killed his victim. He hadn't been murderous, he argued. His actions had been nothing more than a "rash [and] impulsive act" without premeditation.
He also complained that his punishment is too severe.
A California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana this month ruled on the case.
"The fact that Aguilar confronted [the victim] with a loaded, concealed handgun that was easily accessible is evidence of planning," wrote Justice Kathleen O'Leary for justices William Rylaarsdam and Richard Aronson.
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The appellate panel determined that the jury reasonably concluded that Aguilar had "arrived at a cold and calculated judgment to kill" merely to bolster his thug reputation.
They also observed that the shooting "was entirely unprovoked."
Upshot: Aguilar--whose home is now the lovely Wasco State Prison--took this last breath in freedom at the age of 18 and will be about 50 years old when he gets his first opportunity to seek California parole board permission to return to society.