A jury Wednesday afternoon found a Santa Ana man guilty of murdering a drug dealer making himself a coffee in an Edinger Avenue bakery in October 2010, but the panel let a second defendant off. While the prosecution had claimed Frankie Esteban Giraldo was serving as a lookout for gunman Israel Pena Lopez, jurors obviously bought 32-year-old Giraldo's excuse: He'd shown up at absolutely the wrong time to buy drugs from Alejandro David Sanchez, who had 30 bindles of heroin and three disposable phones in his pocket when he was shot six times in the back.
Sanchez's niece had said after the 32-year-old was gunned down the evening of Oct. 13, 2010, that he was a "supportive and a very loving person and didn't deserve this at all." Lopez entered Panaderia La Chapina, shot Sanchez (who didn't even see it coming), left briefly and returned to fire again at the mortally injured man on the floor, but the gun would not discharge. All of it was captured on the bakery's surveillance video.
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. The jury found him guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, with a sentencing enhancement for personal discharge of a gun.
Giraldo was arrested after a search warrant was served at a Santa Ana residence two months after the Sanchez shooting. Giraldo initially told police he was not at the bakery, then he was there to buy bread and, finally, that he had come to score heroin from Sanchez, according to Giraldo's defense attorney Jaclin Awad.
Sanchez was a "good friend, a straight-up dude" to Giraldo, who would never kill the dealer because he was the former addict's "lifeline" to drugs, Awad says in a City News Service report from the courtroom.