[UPDATED with Conviction:] Ivan Sanchez Faces 50 Years for Murder That Began With Fight Over Mexico's Best State
See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on Ivan Sanchez's conviction.
See Update No. 1 on Sanchez's trial opening.
ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 7, 4:14 P.M.: Nineteen-year-old gang member Ricardo Guerra Rocha was sentenced today to 40 years to life in state prison for the unprovoked shooting-murder of Esteban Navarrete outside of Mariscos La Ola restaurant in Santa Ana on Feb. 13, 2011.
That was the killing of a bystander to a fight over the best state in Mexico.
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Rocha, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was convicted by a jury in June on one felony count of murder, one felony count of street terrorism, and sentencing enhancements for the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death by a gang member and criminal street gang activity.
During sentencing today, the wife, mother and brother 35-year-old Navarrete left behind presented impact statements to the court describing the devastation of losing their best friend, husband and son, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office.
Speaking of family, Ricardo Rocha's sister, Maria Isabel Rocha, 30, has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for
Sept. 19 on pretty much the same charges as her brother. The trial for alleged triggerman Ivan Sanchez, 23, is set to begin Sept. 18. (*See update below.)
Navarette had been eating with others when a fight between diners at other tables turned into a melee that spilled out into the restaurant's parking lot. As the combatants began breaking up and going their own ways, Navarrete informed his party it would be a good time to leave. He was shot to death when some of those involved in the argument over which state in Mexico is best returned and opened fire on Navarrete as he was getting into his vehicle.
Described as a family man and hard worker at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange for 15 years, Navarette was declared brain dead days after the shooting before his family gathered around his hospital bed as he was taken off life support.
According to the Santa Ana Police Department, the Rochas and Sanchez were identified through the aid of an anonymous tip from someone who recognized the alleged shooter and surveillance video from Mariscos La Ola. The video also confirmed that Navarrete only glanced over as the incident unfolded in the restaurant and that he never got involved.
Sanchez was arrested attempting to flee to Mexico, where he had never been before. Maria and Ricardo Rocha turned themselves in to Santa Ana Police on Feb. 18, 2011.
UPDATE NO. 1, SEPT. 26, 6:01 A.M.: The murder trial for alleged triggerman Ivan Sanchez is scheduled to begin today in Santa Ana.
The 23-year-old Santa Ana man could send him to prison for 50 years with a conviction on a felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for personal discharge of a firearm causing death.
An Orange County District Attorney's office statement accuses Sanchez of shooting Esteban Navarrete once in the head, killing him, and firing several more rounds around the Mariscos La Ola parking lot that, luckily, did not hit anyone.
A pre-trial hearing for Maria Rocha is now scheduled for Sept. 28.
UPDATE NO. 2, SEPT. 27, 5:13 P.M.: A jury today convicted Sanchez of the charges against him. A sentencing hearing where he could get up to 50 years to life in state prison is scheduled Dec. 7.
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