A judge sentenced David Aguilar to 61 years to life in prison for the shooting death of Lacy Marie Ferguson, who was struck by gunfire in west Modesto nearly 15 years ago.
The investigation into Ferguson’s death remained dormant with no arrests for more than a decade until authorities found Aguilar in Mexico. He was held there in prison for about two years until he was extradited and returned to Stanislaus County in May 2016.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley on Monday handed Aguilar the maximum sentence. The 46-year-old man’s sentence includes an additional two consecutive terms of life in prison, according to John Goold, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
A jury on Aug. 16 found David Aguilar guilty of murder in Ferguson’s death. The 25-year-old mother was hit by stray gunfire in a drive-by shooting as she stood outside the Quik Stop store and gas station on Paradise and Carpenter roads.
Aguilar also was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder for two other people hit by gunfire. His charges included enhancements for using a gun and causing great bodily injury or death.
The deadly shooting occurred Aug. 24, 2003. Ferguson’s boyfriend, John Ritchie, was standing near her when shots were fired from a car driving through the parking lot.
Adrian Vega was in a nearby parked car, which authorities say was the intended target. Ferguson, Ritchie and Vega all were hit by gunfire. Ferguson was hit in the head and died hours later at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira argued at trial that Aguilar was in a car with Pete Garcia that night before both men took turns firing a gun in the direction of the convenience store. Garcia was killed in an unrelated confrontation in 2008, before he could be charged in the deadly shooting.
Percy Martinez, Aguilar’s attorney, argued that Anthony Warren and Aylwin Dwayne Johnson were behind bars for committing unrelated crimes years after Ferguson was killed, when they offered their stories to authorities and implicated Aguilar in the Quik Stop shooting.
Ferguson’s daughter, Haleigh, was 3 years old when her mom died. The now-teenage girl spoke in court last year. She told the judge the special moments she was supposed to have with her mother were “stolen from me, when he pulled the trigger.”
Boni Driskill, Ferguson’s mother, has said she promised to raise her granddaughter well and get justice for her daughter’s death. Driskill last year confronted Aguilar in court, asking him, “Why would you shoot a gun and blow my daughter’s brains out?”
Aguilar’s family has maintained his innocence. They’ve told the prosecution team in the courthouse hallway that they punished the wrong man. His family has said the jury relied on testimony from convicted, incarcerated felons who lied to receive leniency from prosecutors.