Unprovoked Shooting Draws Conviction, Unprovoked Stabbing Brings Prison Term

The shooter, Ivan Garcia.
The shooter, Ivan Garcia.
Courtesy of Orange County District Attorney's Office

These seem to be unprovoked attack times, at least based on the activity in Santa Ana's Orange County Superior Court.

A Garden Grove gang banger who shot a father of five moving his car was convicted Thursday. A 19 year prison sentence was handed down today to a third-strike transient who stabbed a 14-year-old girl walking to a friend's house in Villa Park.

In both cases, prosecutors wanted more.

David Puga and his wife returned to their home on a Garden Grove cul-de-sac after grocery shopping around 9:30 p.m. on April 27, 2008. Nearby, two gang members were tagging a block wall, crossing out the graffiti of a rival gang and covering it with graffiti denoting their own gang.

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After the couple put the groceries away, Puga, a 45-year-old father of five, went back outside to move his car from the street into his driveway.

For some unknown reason, one of the gang bangers pulled out a gun and shot Puga three times, with the bullets striking the dad's neck, arm and foot.

The gunman continued shooting at Puga as the victim tried to crawl toward his home for safety.

Puga's wife called 9-1-1 after hearing the gunshots and seeing her husband collapsed on the front doorstep of their home, bleeding.

He wound up having to have a large section of his brain removed.  Puga now suffers from a permanent loss of physical control and is confined to a wheelchair. He also suffers from memory loss and substantially lacks basic motor and verbal functions.

The gang members darted off, but a witness saw one of the gunman throw the graffiti spray can he'd been carrying into a dumpster near a convenience store. Police officers retrieved the spray can and submitted it for DNA testing.

The DNA matched that of 26-year-old Garden Grove resident Ivan Garcia, who was in the DNA database for a prior conviction from 2008 for being an accessory after the fact to a gang murder.

Garcia was found guilty on Thursday of one felony count each of attempted murder and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements and allegations for attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, criminal street gang activity, and the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.

He could get up to 40 years to life in state prison at his sentencing scheduled for April 2 in Santa Ana.

What about his partner in crime?

The second gang member has not been identified, meaning cops, prosecutors and the victim cannot be completely satisfied with the results.

In the Villa Park case, the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) objected to the 19 year prison sentence Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals handed to 51-year-old David Edward Eddy, both at the time the judge made the original offer and again at today's formal sentencing.

Because of the seriousness of the crime and Eddy's past criminal record--he has prior strike convictions for first degree burglaries in San Francisco in 1983 and Los Angeles Counties in 1992--Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon sought a life prison sentence.

The crime was equally as thoughtless as the Garden Grove shooting. At about 11 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2008, the unnamed 14-year-old girl and her friend were walking along Santiago Boulevard in Villa Park back to the friend's house after having breakfast at a nearby bagel shop.

Eddy was walking the opposite direction on the other side of the street, but crossed over to the same side and walked toward the girls, even though he did not know them and vice versa.

As the pair passed Eddy, he whipped out a knife and lunged at the 14-year-old, stabbing her twice in the side and inflicting two puncture wounds. Her friend yelled to run, and they darted off to a nearby gas station, where witnesses called 9-1-1 and helped the girl put pressure on her wounds. She eventually went to a hospital where she was treated and released.

Eddy tried to flee right after the stabbing, but he was chased down and held by three men until police arrived.

The girl appeared in court today to say Eddy changed her life forever, changing her from an innocent and carefree girl to someone who is scared and paranoid. She explained that she is afraid of shadows and is fearful when people walk up behind her.

The father of her friend told the court the two girls used to live in a world that was safe, but Eddy took only a few seconds to take that away from them.

Their loss apparently equals 19 years in Judge Goethels' reckoning.

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