A gang member was sentenced Thursday to 300 years to life behind bars for an October 2015 shooting in Canoga Park that killed an innocent bystander who was struck by a stray bullet.
Ariel Baker Paniagua Jr., 25, of Canoga Park, was convicted last September of second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2015, killing of Eduardo Rebolledo.
The 33-year-old victim was in his pickup truck changing his shoes when a stray bullet went through the rear window of the vehicle, through the seat and hit him in the back of the head, according to Deputy District Attorney Eric Siddall. Rebolledo had been on his phone moments earlier to try to raise money for poor children in Mexico, the prosecutor said.
The gunfire was intended for three men — who the defendant perceived as gang rivals — in another vehicle, according to Siddall. One of the people in that car was slightly wounded.
Paniagua, who had been released on parole in July 2015 after serving time for a 2011 robbery conviction, was also convicted of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle and three counts of attempted murder, with jurors finding true gun and gang allegations against him.
One of the charges against Paniagua stemmed from a separate incident a week later, in which he opened fire on a vehicle on Owensmouth Boulevard near Cohasset Street in Canoga Park. The intended victim fled from the scene, and authorities do not believe that person was struck by the gunfire.
Co-defendant Hubaldo Martinez, 36, who drove Paniagua away from the scene of the deadly shooting, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced last year to 27 years in state prison.
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