Driver's sentence closes shooting death case of 12-year-old Mexican national
SAN BERNARDINO — Nearly four years after a failed immigrant hand-off resulted in the shooting death of 12-year-old Gabriel Garcia, a superior court judge handed down a nine-year prison sentence to the man prosecutors said was responsible.
San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Kyle Brodie pronounced his Aug. 19 ruling after a plea agreement was reached between the District Attorney’s Office and the public defender representing Pedro Escobedo, 46.
The deal stemmed, in part, from Escobeda’s own “credible” testimony about the December 2006 incident during a retrial last month.
“It was a just outcome considering the evidence we had,” said Deputy District Attorney Joanne Uhlman.
The case dates back to mid-December 2006, when sheriff’s investigators say two groups of people met at a McDonald’s parking lot to hand off illegal immigrants from Mexico. The parking lot is located off Interstate 15 and state highway 138, a busy crossroads north of San Bernardino that leads to Las Vegas.
Reports said that a heated exchange ensued, leading to a car chase between a Nissan Maxima and a Ford Explorer, driven by Escobedo.
Reports, which had Garcia as a passenger in the front seat of the Maxima, say gunshots were fired from the Explorer.
The chase ended in Mira Loma, a spot along the 15 freeway about 30 miles south of where the chase began. Garcia died at a Riverside-area hospital. The DA’s office has still been unable to locate the victim’s family.
Two other defendants also received plea bargains, according to the DA’s office.
Saul Jaurez, 33, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to voluntary manslaughter and received a 10-year state prison sentence. Luis Chavira, 26, was sentenced to nearly 14 years after pleading guilty in October 2007 to voluntary manslaughter and shooting at an occupied vehicle.
Escobedo, who has been in custody since Dec. 14, 2006, received credit for time already served.