A 22-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for attempted voluntary manslaughter for a shooting that wounded two men in the parking lot of a Cathedral City sports bar.
Prosecutors had asked jurors to convict Santos Franco, of Palm Springs, of two counts of attempted murder for the shooting that took place outside The Block Sports Bar & Grill.
However, the panel, which deliberated less than a half day, found him guilty of a lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter involving one of the victims, and acquitted him of all charges related to the second victim.
Cathedral City police received multiple 911 calls reporting gunfire at 1:47 a.m. on March 5, 2017, and found two men, ages 24 and 25, with gunshot wounds. One of them had been shot multiple times in the head and chest, while the other victim was struck once in the shoulder. Both were hospitalized for just under a week and have since recovered from their injuries.
Franco and co-defendant Felipe Arechiga got into an argument with the victims outside the bar, according to police, who alleged that Franco fired on both men with a gun in each hand.
At a preliminary hearing in late 2017, one of the victims testified that he and Arechiga had been involved in several verbal disputes in the past, but did not elaborate on what precipitated the argument outside The Block.
Arechiga was initially charged with attempted murder, which was reduced to being an accessory after the fact in a plea deal in which he admitted driving Franco from the shooting scene and helping dispose of the weapons. Arechiga pleaded guilty to the accessory charge in 2017 and was sentenced to three years probation.
Franco and Arechiga were arrested about 12 hours after the gunfire, according to Cathedral City police Cmdr. Julio Luna, who said detectives recovered two handguns used in the shooting at The Block, which was also the site of a fatal beating and another non-fatal injury shooting within a year’s time.
In June 2016, Rolando Rodriguez was beaten outside the bar in an attack that rendered him comatose. He died in a hospital months later. Two men — Jorge Tapia and Andrew Ponce — are scheduled for trial on August 16 for murder charges in connection with the beating.
In July 2017, another argument turned into a shooting that left a man hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. Four men — Tomas Zaragoza, Andrew Monroy, Carlos Rodriguez, and Ricky Ceballos — were arrested and charged with attempted murder in that shooting, and are scheduled for trial on March 18.
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