Two cousins who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault for a shooting that stemmed from an argument at a Santa Rosa cantina in December 2011 were sentenced to state prison terms this morning in Sonoma County Superior Court. Jose Campos-Mendoza, 19, pleaded guilty to the voluntary manslaughter of Cristopher Medina 23, of Santa Rosa, for the shooting at the El Puente Bar and Restaurant on Dec. 3, 2011.
Campos-Mendoza, who prosecutors said was the shooter, also pleaded guilty to assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a second shooting victim, Julian Loeza Jr., 22, of Santa Rosa, and Paul Harris, a security guard who was nearly hit by the bullets. Judge Kenneth Gnoss sentenced him to 21 years and four months in state prison. Alfonso Ramirez-Mendoza, 19, of Santa Rosa, also pleaded guilty to the voluntary manslaughter of Medina and to assaulting Harris and Loeza with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
His attorney Mike Li said Ramirez-Mendoza, who had faced up to 40 years in prison if he had been convicted in a trial, gave Campos-Mendoza the gun just prior to the shooting. A third defendant, Daniel Calderon-Escobido, 23, of Petaluma, who pleaded no contest in December 2011 to being an accessory to the shooting, was sentenced in February 2012 to two years in Sonoma County Jail.
Escobido ran from the scene with the gun after the shooting, but did not fire any shots, according to prosecutors. He had faced up to three years in prison. The shooting happened around 2 a.m. in the parking lot of the cantina at 1709 Santa Rosa Ave. Medina was pronounced dead at a hospital and Loeza was admitted for surgery. Campos-Mendoza was 17 years old at the time but was prosecuted as an adult. A jury had already been selected for the trial when Ramirez-Mendoza and Campos-Mendoza agreed to plead guilty, Deputy District Attorney Craig Brooks said this morning.
Paul Harris refused to testify at the trial, and during a pre-trial hearing, Harris said he “would rather sit in jail than be a snitch,” Brooks said. “He was one of the few sober, independent witnesses,” Brooks said. Loeza Jr. also was reluctant to testify but was still scheduled as a witness, Brooks said. The assault victims’ refusal and reluctance to testify led to the plea agreement, Brooks said.
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