Mother convicted of harboring son

March 27, 2014 

A mother has been convicted of helping her son avoid arrest in the shooting death of a 21-year-old man in Empire two years ago in what authorities have called gang retaliation. Sandra Rodriguez, 42, on March 17 pleaded no contest to harboring or helping a felony suspect avoid arrest or prosecution. The judge sentenced Rodriguez to one year in jail and three years of probation, according to Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley. Rodriguez is scheduled to start her jail sentence June 2. Her son, 19-year-old Santiago Rivas, still faces a charge of premeditated murder in the death of Gabriel Estrada Lopez, who was gunned down in the afternoon of Feb. 4, 2012, near First and G streets in Empire. The defendant was 17 years old when the shooting occurred but is being prosecuted as an adult. Rivas also has been charged with assault with a firearm and actively participating in a criminal street gang – the Norteños, according to a criminal indictment filed June 18. Rivas will return to court April 8 for his trial to be scheduled. He remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

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