Apr. 17—A Yuba County Superior Court judge ruled that a defendant found guilty of murder in a 2019 car-to-car shooting committed prior strike offenses.
Judge Julia Scrogin made the ruling during a brief court trial on Thursday.
On March 15, a Yuba County jury found Avery Sanchez, 22, guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Sanchez was on trial for his part in a shooting on Highway 70 in May 2019 that resulted in the death of Alejandro Escobar, 38.
Yuba County Chief Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello said the jury could have determined during the trial whether Sanchez had committed the prior strikes but the defense requested it be determined by a judge in a court trial.
Sanchez's attorney, Roberto Marquez, said he requested a court trial be used to rule on the prior strike offenses.
"That way the jury does not know about his criminal history while considering whether he is guilty or not," Sanchez said.
Sanchez's previous strike offenses included robbery and gang participation in both Yuba and Sutter counties.
Marquez said on Thursday that he was very disappointed in the outcome of the trial.
"I truly believe that the jury convicted my client not based upon the evidence but based upon the fact that they believe he was a gang member," Marquez said. "From the inception this case was never a gang case and that changed only after we selected a jury and Mr. Sorbello moved to admit evidence concerning my client's gang history and the gang history of the codefendants."
At the end of the hearing, Sanchez's sentencing in the murder case was set for June 11 at 9 a.m.