MODESTO — A defense attorney is seeking to withdraw his client's guilty plea to killing a man in Ceres in retribution for a home-invasion robbery committed by the victim's sister.
As part of the plea deal agreed to in January, Primitivo Guizar, 21, was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for shooting 20-year-old Amadeo Avalos eight times in broad daylight on Jan. 11, 2010.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen on Monday scheduled a hearing May 10 for arguments on the motion to withdraw Guizar's plea. The judge scheduled a status conference hearing April 5.
The defendant's new attorney, Michael Platt, did not attend Monday's hearing because he was in the middle of a trial in Santa Clara County. Another attorney appeared on his behalf, telling the judge that Platt decided to seek the plea withdrawal after speaking extensively with Guizar and his family and reading a transcript of the criminal case.
It's unclear why Platt wants his client's plea withdrawn; that was not discussed in court Monday morning. Guizar remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.
In the Jan. 18 hearing, the defendant stood up and faced the courtroom audience as he apologized to the victim's family. Guizar said in court he was seeking revenge against the family of Patricia Avalos, who was convicted of committing the home-invasion robbery at the Guizar family's home in south Modesto.
Avalos was driving a red pickup near East Whitmore Avenue and Morgan Road when another vehicle pulled up next to him. Guizar said he fired a 9 mm handgun at Avalos.
As part of the plea deal, Deputy District Attorney Jared Carrillo said they agreed to drop enhancements that alleged Guizar committed premeditated murder, used a gun in the crime and waited for the victim to arrive at the busy intersection.
The enhancements would have elevated the crime to first-degree murder and lengthened Guizar's sentence. The defendant agreed to read his written allocution in court.
Robert Chase, Guizar's defense attorney in the preliminary hearing, argued that the brazen home-invasion robbery provoked his client to irrationally respond with violence.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.