FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 5, 2021
Case #: 09CF1539
Public Information Officer
Office: 714-347-8405, Cell: 714-504-1917
Gang Member Extradited from Guatemala to Face
Murder Charges after Victim Dies 15 years after Shooting
Defendant is one of three men previously convicted of attempted murder
in 1994 attack that left 19-year-old a quadriplegic and on a ventilator
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A gang member who was convicted of attempting to murder a rival gang member 26 years ago, leaving the victim a quadriplegic, has been extradited from Guatemala to now face murder charges after his victim ended up dying from his wounds 15 years after the shooting. Two other men are already serving prison sentences for the murder after also being sentenced for his attempted murder.
Prosecutors filed murder charges against Giovanny Edgar Sanchez, his brother Erwin Sanchez, and Daniel Paul Cruz in June 2009 after Scott Sittler died 15 years after being shot in the head in Santa Ana. Sittler was 19 years old when he was shot.
The September 24, 1994 shooting left Sittler a quadriplegic who lived on a respirator until his death in February 2009. Coroners in Orange and Los Angeles Counties testified that the 1994 gunshot wound started a chain of events that directly led to Sittler’s death 15 years later.
After years of multi-agency collaboration to extradite Giovanny Sanchez back to the United States, members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Orange County escorted him from Guatemala back to Orange County on Tuesday. The fugitive investigation and return was a collaborative effort by the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force, the Santa Ana Police Department, the FBI’s Legal Attaché in San Salvador and international partners in Central America. The extradition was handled by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Department of Justice – Office of International Affairs.
Sanchez is currently being held without bail at the Theo Lacy Facility. He is scheduled to be arraigned on February 24, 2021.
“The pursuit of justice never ends,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “No matter how long it takes or how far we have to go, we will never give up on holding someone accountable for killing another human being. My investigators and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to bring this final suspect back to the United States to have his day in court and that day is finally here. The long arm of the law will always catch up with you.”
In September 1996, Erwin Sanchez, Giovanny Sanchez, and Cruz all pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the 1994 shooting of Sittler.
Erwin Sanchez was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Cruz was sentenced to nine years in state prison. After being released, Cruz committed an unrelated armed residential robbery in June 2003 and was sentenced to 23 years state prison.
Givanny 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.
Giovanny Edgar Sanchez, 47, was charged in June 2009 with one felony count of murder, one felony count of street terrorism, with felony sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and being armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office began extradition proceedings for Giovanny Sanchez after the new charges were filed.
Following Sittler’s death, Erwin Sanchez was convicted in 2011 of one felony count of first-degree murder for shooting Sittler in the head, one felony enhancement of participating in a criminal street gang, and one felony enhancement of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 29 years to life.
Cruz pleaded guilty in 2013 to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter and admitted a felony enhancement of participating in a criminal street gang and a felony enhancement of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Moore of the Gang Unit is prosecuting this case.