Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
April 2, 2010
Susan Kang Schroeder
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 40 YEARS TO LIFE
FOR SHOOTING AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER
FATHER OF FIVE WHILE TAGGING GANG GRAFFITI
IN VICTIM’S NEIGHBORHOOD
*Defendant was linked to the crime through DNA
on his discarded graffiti spray can
SANTA ANA – A Garden Grove criminal street gang member was sentenced today to 40 years to life in state prison after being linked through DNA on a graffiti spray can to the shooting and attempted murder of a father of five, rendering him permanently mentally and physically disabled. Ivan Garcia, 26, Garden Grove, was found guilty, Feb. 25, 2010, of one felony count each of attempted murder and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements and allegations for attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, criminal street gang activity, and the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on April 27, 2008, 45-year-old David Puga and his wife returned to their Garden Grove home after grocery shopping. The house is located in a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood. Defendant Garcia and a fellow gang member were standing near the entrance to the cul-de-sac tagging a block wall by crossing out the graffiti of a rival gang and covering it with graffiti denoting their own criminal street gang.
Puga, a father of five, went back outside to move his car from the street into his driveway. When the victim got to his car, which was parked near the wall where Garcia and his accomplice were tagging, the defendant pulled out a gun and shot Puga three times. Garcia struck the victim in the neck, arm, and foot, and continued to shoot at Puga as the victim attempted to escape by crawling toward his home.
Puga’s wife called 9-1-1 after hearing the gunshots and finding her husband collapsed on the front doorstep of their home, bleeding. As a result of the injuries and gunshot wound to his neck caused by Garcia, Puga had to have a large portion of his brain removed. He suffers from a permanent loss of physical control and is confined to a wheelchair. Puga also suffers from memory loss and substantially lacks basic motor and verbal functions.
Garcia and his fellow gang member fled the scene. As they fled, witnesses observed the defendant throw the graffiti spray can into a dumpster near a convenience store. Responding officers investigating the shooting recovered the spray can and submitted it for DNA testing. On Aug. 4, 2008, DNA from the graffiti spray can was matched to Garcia, who had a prior conviction from that same year for being an accessory after the fact to a gang murder.
The second gang member in this case has not been identified.
During the sentencing today, Puga’s wife and daughter gave victim impact statements to the court. His wife, Dorothy Puga, stated, “All I have to say to you, Ivan, is that you will suffer in jail like my husband has to suffer for the rest of his life. You have not only hurt our family, but by the way I see your mother crying in the courtroom, you have hurt your family as well.”
The victim’s daughter, who was 16-year-old at the time of the crime, explained, “I will never forget the way my dad was looking at me as he lay on the driveway on his back with blood pouring out of his neck. I was screaming out loud, ‘Dad, please don’t die!’“
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos of the TARGET Unit prosecuted this case.