The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to hear the case of a man convicted of murder for supplying a shotgun used in a Halloween 2015 drive-by shooting in Bellflower that left a 17-year-old boy dead.
A jury found Brian Jesse Altamirez, now 25, guilty of first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the Oct. 31, 2015, retaliation slaying of Sitani Siale’uvea.
The teen was standing in the 16100 block of Bellflower Boulevard, a busy commercial street, when Jesus Chavez fired on him from a vehicle using a shotgun supplied by Altamirez.
The teen was struck by multiple shotgun bullets and died at a hospital from a shot to his stomach.
Chavez had animosity involving the victim because of an earlier incident involving Siale’uvea’s girlfriend, according to Deputy District Attorney Steve Schreiner. The girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, was in Chavez’s car and doing drugs, prompting Siale’uvea to bang on the windshield, urging her to stop. He damaged Chavez’s car and Chavez was determined to retaliate, the prosecutor said.
When a “cooperating agent” placed in a jail cell with Altamirez asked him if he regretted his involvement in the shooting, Altamirez said, “If you think about it, fool. I’m like an accessory to murder, you know. I don’t feel sorry for that fool dog, even though I could have prevented it. Naw, fool, I don’t feel sorry for that fool,” according to a May 20 ruling from a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.
The appellate court panel rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence against Altamirez to support the special circumstance finding of murder during a drive-by shooting.
“We conclude that an aider and abettor need not have the intent to carry out the killing by drive-by shooting to be culpable for the drive-by murder special circumstance; the prosecution need only prove the aider and abettor shared the intent to kill and that the actual killer intentionally killed the victim by means of drive-by murder,” the panel found in rejecting Altamirez’s challenge.
Chavez and Altamirez were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In an August 2020 ruling, a three-justice panel rejected Chavez’s challenge to the special circumstance allegation. The California Supreme Court subsequently refused to review Chavez’s case.
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