|For Immediate Release
Case # TBA
June 22, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
GANG MEMBER BROTHERS AND FRIEND CHARGED WITH MURDER FOR 1994 SHOOTING
* Victim struggled while paralyzed on a respirator for 15 years before his death
SANTA ANA – Two brothers and a friend were charged today with murder for shooting a man in the head in 1994, leaving the victim a quadriplegic on a respirator until the shot finally caused his death in February 2009. Erwin Johnny Sanchez, 34, his brother Giovanny Edgar Sanchez, 37, and their friend Daniel Paul Cruz, 33, all formerly of Santa Ana, have each been charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Erwin Sanchez also faces a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and faces a maximum sentence of 38 years to life in state prison if convicted. Giovanny Sanchez and Cruz face a sentencing enhancement for the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death and face a maximum sentence of 29 years to life in state prison if convicted.
In September 1996, the three defendants pleaded guilty and admitted that they attempted to murder the victim (Case # 94CF2707). Erwin Sanchez, the shooter, was sentenced to 20 years in state prison in 1996 and was due to be released in 2015. Giovanny Sanchez was sentenced to 11 years in state prison and completed his sentence in 2006. He was held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody until early 2009, when he was deported to Guatemala. Cruz was sentenced to nine years in state prison. After completing his sentence in this case, Cruz was convicted of committing an unrelated armed residential robbery in June 2003 and was sentenced to 23 years in state prison (Case # 03SF0450). He is currently serving that sentence and was due to be released in 2022.
Erwin Sanchez and Cruz will be transported from state prison to face the murder charges. Giovanny Sanchez will face extradition proceedings in Guatemala. The dates are to be determined.
Circumstances of the Murder
On Sept. 24, 1994, criminal street gang members Erwin Sanchez, Giovanny Sanchez, and Cruz are accused of driving through Santa Ana searching for rival gang member Scott Sittler, 19. The three are accused of believing that Sittler had been attempting to interfere in the relationship between Giovanny Sanchez and his girlfriend. At approximately 4:00 p.m., the defendants are accused of finding Sittler, who was standing in a cul-de-sac in a residential area on Minnie Street. Several other people were also in the cul-de-sac at the time.
The defendants are accused of getting out of their car and confronting the victim. After verbally arguing with the victim, Erwin Sanchez is accused of pulling out a gun and shooting Sittler one time in the mouth at close range. The bullet pierced through the back of the victim’s neck, severing his spinal cord. The three defendants are accused of fleeing the scene. The defendants are accused of severing the victim’s spinal cord and paralyzing him. They were later charged with and convicted of attempted murder.
The initial and follow-up medical attention kept the victim alive. The defendants are accused of causing the injury that forced the victim to live the next 15 years living in care facilities as a quadriplegic on a respirator. In February 2009, the victim died of pneumonia. Coroners in Orange and Los Angeles County determined that the cause of death was the gunshot to the head from 1994.