After spending three hours inside a Santa Ana strip club with his friends on an October 2006 afternoon, Carlos Rosario Gonzales couldn't bring himself to obey the club's rule: Don't fondle the strippers.
Worse, Gonzales couldn't appreciate that the club's security wanted to eject him when he became argumentative about the simple rule and demanded to confront the strippers.
Even worse, the violent 34-year-old convicted felon and his buddies were willing to fight to get their way.
While his buddies fought with security in the parking lot, Gonzales
walked to his truck, retrieved a .38-caliber revolver, yelled, “Fuck
you, motherfucker,” and shot bouncer Michael Blankenhorn in the back.
According to court records, the fatal bullet pierced Blankenhorn's heart and lungs.
2009, an Orange County jury didn't buy Gonzales' defense: he'd shot the
bouncer solely to protect one of his buddies from being attacked. Believing that the
defendant was now a Third Striker (assault with a deadly weapon, robbery
and now murder), Superior Court Judge John Conley sentenced him to a
whopping prison term of 100 years to life, plus an additional 10 years.
appealed, claiming he was innocent and that jurors should not have
learned about his prior convictions because the knowledge discredited
his defense. He also asserted that prosecutors had not adequately proved
his 1998 felony assault conviction qualified as a strike.
This month, a
California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered the complaints
and partially agreed with Gonzales. Judge Conley shouldn't have applied the
assault strike because of a technicality. That means that Gonzales'
punishment likely will be substantially reduced.
But a three-justice panel directed by Richard M. Aronson also concluded that he was guilty of murder.
According to court records, Judge Conley has not yet scheduled a re-sentencing hearing.