The gang member whose actions caused the death of the co-founder of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset company was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in state prison.
Victor Manuel Sanchez, 24, of Santa Ana, had pleaded guilty May 17 to second-degree murder, felony evading a peace officer while driving recklessly causing serious bodily injury and death as well as a sentencing enhancement for great bodily injury.
Sanchez was driving a white Dodge Charger through an area of Santa Ana known for gang activity on May 30, 2013, when a confrontation with another vehicle led to police intervention and an officer fatally shooting Gerardo Diego Ayala, 26, of Santa Ana.
Meanwhile, one of Sanchez’s two other male passengers yelled at the officers inside a marked police vehicle, the driver then sped away and a nine-mile chase followed that included running red lights and stop signs, driving up onto sidewalks and nearly hitting a pedestrian.
The Charger was going nearly 100 mph when it entered the intersection of Flower Street and Macarthur Boulevard, which was near where 33-year-old Andrew Scott Reisse, who was described as a “genius” computer gaming engineer, was standing on the sidewalk.
The subject of the police pursuit hit the rear end of a flatbed truck passing through the intersection legally, and that’s the vehicle that crashed into Reisse, who died at the scene. The Charger came to a stop, and Sanchez and his pals climbed out of the driver’s side door to escape but were quickly apprehended by Santa Ana cops.
Sanchez was taken to a hospital with a broken arm and facial injuries.
According to a sentencing statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Reisse’s parents delivered victims impact statements to the court pursuant to Marsy’s Law.
“The loss of our son Andrew has been devastating,” his mother said. “There is an emptiness in our lives that never can be filled. We have lost a caring, generous and responsible son who shared family times and trips with us, who called often, who was always ready to help if we needed it, and would have looked out for us in our old age. I lost a wonderful traveling companion who gave me a greater appreciation for the enjoyment and beauty of the natural world he loved to explore. His brother and niece and nephew have lost a loving relative who enjoyed spending time with them, taking trips with them, and was always ready to help. His friends and colleagues have lost a brilliant, kind, dedicated, loyal, productive, and responsible person who encouraged and mentored everyone around him.”
Reisse’s father said, “It leaves a hole in our lives that will never be filled. It will be with us for the rest of our lives. Andrew had promised to take care of his mother if anything had happened to me, and I am sure that he would have done the same for me. He was that type of person.”