A judge on Thursday sentenced a 24-year-old man to 15 years in prison for a 2010 deadly shooting in west Modesto. The defendant had already been sentenced to 80 years to life in prison for his role in a fatal home-invasion robbery in Modesto’s airport neighborhood.
Angel Del Villar pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for the death of 30-year-old Enrique Garcia Jr. He was gunned down May 18, 2010. Two months earlier, Del Villar was part of a group of gang members who botched the home-invasion robbery, resulting in the death of a man who tried to get away from the armed robbers.
The defendant was at San Quentin State Prison serving his sentence for the home-invasion robbery, when a preliminary hearing began in the Garcia murder case. The hearing to determine whether Del Villar would stand trial began last year and was put on hold in mid-December. Testimony did not resume over the next several months as attorneys worked on a resolution.
Last month, attorneys agreed to a plea deal. Prosecutors reduced the murder charge against Del Villar to voluntary manslaughter, and they dropped charges of marijuana cultivation and possessing marijuana for sale, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeff Laugero. The manslaughter charge and an enhancement for using a gun in Garcia’s killing produced the defendant’s 15-year prison sentence.
In the preliminary hearing, Modesto police Detective Ra Pouv testified that Garcia was followed from Vintage Faire Mall to the west Modesto neighborhood, where a gunman walked up to his car and shot him.
Pouv said in court that a confidential witness was riding in the back seat of a car, with Del Villar in the front passenger seat, the night they followed Garcia from the Modesto mall. A third man was driving the car. The witness told the detectives that Del Villar spotted Garcia in a car near the mall, saying: “There goes a scrap.” Norteño gang members commonly use the term “scrap” as a slur referring to rival Sureño gang members.
The three men followed Garcia south on Highway 99 and into the west Modesto neighborhood, near Locust Street and North Martin Luther King Drive.
Del Villar had pulled a .357-caliber revolver from under his seat, according to Pouv’s testimony. The witness told Pouv that Del Villar walked up to Garcia’s car and fired the gun four or five times.
Authorities have said Garcia tried to get away in his car but crashed less than two blocks from where the shooting took place. He died at the crash site from multiple gunshot wounds.
Along with the 15 years in prison for Garcia’s death, Del Villar has to serve the 80 years in prison for Julio Jimenez’s shooting death.
Del Villar was one of four men found guilty of murder for their involvement in the home-invasion robbery. The prosecution said a Norteño street gang regiment looking for drugs and cash carried out the robbery but targeted the wrong victims.
The robbers thought they were hitting a notorious drug house March 24, 2010, but the dealers had moved out and the cash and drugs were not there. Testimony indicated the robbers confronted five victims, including Jimenez, who was shot in the back three times as he pleaded for mercy.