Luis Tafolla, 24, the Ceres man who pulled the trigger in a shooting that left a Turlock teenager paralyzed, was sentenced on Dec. 10 to seven years plus 25 years to life.
The sentence was handed down by Judge Valli Israels.
On Oct. 9, 2012, a jury found Tafolla guilty of attempted murder, discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, assault with a semi-automatic firearm and participation in a criminal street gang. The jury further found that Tafolla committed the attempted murder to benefit the Sureno gang.
Deputy District Attorney Beth O'Hara Owen prosecuted the case, saying that as a Sureno gang member, Tafolla struck out on April 30, 2007 to "smoke a Norteno" with three other Surenos.
The group of four fetched a "varrio gun" before driving to a known area of Turlock frequented by Norteno gang members. Near Wakefield Elementary School they spotted 16-year-old Eric Carrillo who was not a gang member but wearing a red Falcon's jackets. Carrillo was defying his parent's grounding from cell phone use but grabbed it anyway and left the house to call his girlfriend.
O'Hara said Tafolla left the car with the gun, and approached Carrillo and asking if "he banged." Carrillo said he told them no and asked if they had a problem with that but Tafolla raised the semi-automatic gun with his right hand and fired two shots as he yelled "Sureno." A bullet entered the victim's face and is, to this day, lodged in his neck. Carrillo has been paralyzed since the shooting.
Before the sentencing, Carrillo addressed the court and confirmed that he was not a gang member. He also stated "I loved sports and to work on cars. This (his injury) has limited me. I'm not the type that holds a grudge against my shooter; I forgive him."
Carrillo's mother, Fancy Valdez, addressed the court as well.
"I feel like my son was almost murdered and that's what was meant to happen," she said. "It's a shame that somebody would want to do that to my child."
Tafolla was arrested nearly a month after the shooting. During the investigation he admitted to detectives that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Tafolla was the last of the four men involved in the shooting to be tried and sentenced. In previous court proceedings Armando Zaragoza pled no contest to being an accessory and Marco Antonio Moreno Robles was found guilty of attempted murder and being an accessory. Robles was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years and eight months in prison. The third man, Ricardo Ordaz, 23, accepted a plea deal with the district attorney's office. In exchange for his testimony against the others, he was treated as a juvenile and would be held in custody until he is 25 years of age.
Tafolla's public defender filed a request to have the verdict vacated and a new trial set on Dec. 10, and it was denied by the judge.
Tafolla's sentence means he will have to serve 85 percent of the seven years before he can begin serving his 25 years to life sentence.