An Orange County jury dropped a shocker late February deadlocking on attempted cop-killing charges against three Anaheim gang members. Andrew Sanchez, Jordy Martinez and Juan Covarrubias stood accused of firing at Anaheim police during a wild, late-night car chase on June 1, 2012. But did they knowingly do so? The jury failed to reach a verdict on the question of the most serious charge.
But with street terrorism and gang enhancements, the three didn't get off easy with the felony charge they were found guilty of: firing at an occupied car. On Friday, judge Patrick H. Donahue handed down 15 years to life sentences for each of them.
Attorney Joseph P. Smith and the rest of the defense team in the case tried to cast doubt with the cop car being an unmarked Chevy Impala whose identifying visor lights didn't turn on until later in the chase. Chatter in the Guinida Lane neighborhood behind Disneyland where it all went down held the police entrapped the three into the gunfight by shouting the name of a rival gang. But like much barrio gossip, it couldn't be proven.
The defense argued the trio of Anaheim Vatos Lokos (AVLS) cholos fired because they mistook the car for that belonging to others gangsters looking for trouble in their neighborhood. They confronted the undercover police car and began shooting after a tense stand-off, chasing after the Impala with their Toyota Corolla.
The Weekly later tried to get the purchase receipt for the Impala in question, but the Anaheim city attorney's office blocked our request citing "police techniques and security procedures" exemptions.
Under orders, the two Anaheim officers in the car, Jared Dewald and Yesenia Escobar, never wrote up police reports about the incident. The police opted, as is their discretion, to have detectives take down the pair's statements as victims of a crime instead.
Prosecutor Gary LoGalbo decided not to refile the attempted murder of police charges. Martinez, Covarrubias and Sanchez will all be eligible for parole.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2