A 61-year-old man was sentenced this week to 50 years to life in prison for the fatal shooting of an immigrant smuggler and the wounding of another in Santa Ana nearly 12 years ago.
Manuel Hernandez Juarez was convicted in June of last year of first- degree murder, with a sentencing enhancement for shooting a gun, and attempted murder.
Juarez's son and co-defendant, Huber Juarez Vasquez, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in March. Vasquez was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement for using a gun.
Orange County Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes sentenced Juarez after rejecting his motion for a new trial.
Juarez's attorney, Rob Harley, argued that his client did not receive a fair trial because of ineffective assistance from his previous lawyer, Orange County Public Defender Lawrence Volk, and because there was a delay in filing charges as prosecutors sought three other potential witnesses who were smuggled into the country with the victims, Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.
"Lawrence did a great job (defending Juarez), so that was a no- brainer'' to oppose, Yellin said.
"In terms of the due process (violation), there really wasn't any,'' the prosecutor said. ``The evidence that was missing because of the delay -- that evidence would mostly have helped me, so it didn't prejudice the defense.''
Yellin said Juarez got the "appropriate'' punishment. "I know people don't like smugglers, but we shouldn't allow them to be shot in the street,'' he said.
Juarez arranged for two immigrant smugglers -- also called coyotes -- to bring his son to the United States for about $1,500, Yellin said.
Juarez was supposed to give the smugglers the cash at a Burger King at 1241 W. 17th St., on April 6, 2000, Yellin said.
Instead of paying the smugglers, Juarez showed up for the meeting with two guns, one of which he handed to Vasquez, and they shot their way out of the situation, Yellin said.
Victor Camacho was killed but Jose Luz Garcia, who was shot in the stomach, survived.
Juarez disappeared soon after the shootings. He was arrested in 2009 after Oregon police found him in a drug-dazed state, wandering through a field and worrying aloud that immigrant smugglers known as "coyotes'' were after him because of a shooting in Santa Ana, Yellin said.