A 38-year-old man who murdered a drug dealer making himself a cup of coffee in a Santa Ana bakery has been sentenced to 80 years to life in state prison.
A jury last month found Israel Pena Lopez of Santa Ana guilty of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon and found true a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.
In an unrelated case, Lopez was convicted of shooting at an occupied vehicle with a sentencing enhancement for committing the crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang. That drew him 15 years in prison to be served concurrently with the murder sentence.
In a victim impact statement read in court Friday, the niece of the late Alejandro Sanchez described how much she loved her uncle, what a great person he was and what he meant to her, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. She added she misses him.
Her uncle was making himself a coffee at a counter inside Panaderia La Chapina on Edinger Avenue the evening of Oct. 13, 2010, when Lopez burst in and fired several shots into Sanchez's back, murdering him. Lopez returned a few moments later and tried to fire again at Sanchez, who was lying on the floor, but the gun would not discharge.
Nearby the following day, Lopez yelled a gang name and fired a gun at someone else but missed. He had a gun and heroin on him when he was captured in a Santa Ana backyard shortly thereafter.
Frankie Esteban Giraldo was also prosecuted for murder in the case, but jurors acquitted him, buying his defense attorney's argument that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, having gone to the bakery to buy drugs from Sanchez.