A Sutter County Superior Court jury found a Yuba City man guilty of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
Victor Esquivel, 36, was on trial for shooting Elias Garibay in the head inside a restaurant in the 100 block of Percy Avenue, Yuba City, in November 2019. Garibay was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center and underwent several surgeries. He can no longer walk, see or care for himself as a result of his injuries.
Garibay and Esquivel had been in a physical altercation prior to the shooting at the restaurant, according to testimony presented during the trial.
The trial began on April 9 and finished Thursday afternoon with closing arguments from both attorneys. The jury began deliberating Friday morning and returned with a verdict around 11:30 a.m.
Sutter County Deputy District Attorney Diego Heimlich said Esquivel faces life in prison with the possibility of parole for the charge of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation. The charge typically carries seven years to life but an additional 25 years to life will be added because of the added allegation that Esquivel used a firearm causing great bodily injury. The jury found Esquivel guilty of all sentence enhancements and allegations.
“We all put a lot of work into getting this case together and trying to investigate every possible avenue on it,” Heimlich said. “Many hours went into the preparation to make everything go smoothly. We presented all of the evidence that we believed was necessary to prove it and we were able to introduce all of the evidence that we needed to show what happened and that the defendant was guilty, so I’m really happy as to how everything went and how the court ruled on objections and admissibility of evidence. I think the court was very fair and impartial to both sides and I’m really happy with the outcome.”
This trial, like several others during the pandemic, was done with jurors spread out throughout the courtroom where the audience would normally sit instead of the jury box.
“I’m used to it by now,” Heimlich said. “It’s definitely not ideal because as attorneys we like to be able to see the jury next to us in the jury box. So it makes it a little awkward when they’re sitting behind us and you can’t see their faces as you’re presenting evidence.”
Defense attorney Jesse Santana said there was evidence he wanted to present during the trial that he was not allowed to by the court that spoke to Esquivel’s work ethic and Esquivel’s belief that Garibay had gang affiliations.
“We put on the best defense that we could and that’s all you can ask for in a case like this,” Santana said. “Obviously we accept the jury’s decision and we go from there.”
He said it would be up to the court of appeals to decide if the evidence he wanted to present should have been allowed to be presented.
“He (Esquivel) really thought he was being attacked by a gang member,” Santana said. “The way he (Garibay) was throwing gang signs up and the way he was dressed. He believed he was a gang member and as a result that caused him even more fear.”
Esquivel will be sentenced on June 4 at 9 a.m.