A 22-year-old probationer was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life behind bars for shooting an 18-year-old man in the face after the victim objected to having his bike taken without permission.
Daniel Alvarez eluded authorities for more than a year until he bragged about the killing to a cousin, who turned him in, according to Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter.
Alvarez was convicted Sept. 23 of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a probationer for gunning down Bruno Ugalde about 1:20 a.m. on May 8, 2012, at 502 E. Pine St. in Santa Ana, Porter said.
Although Ugalde hung around with Alvarez’s gang, he’d had no significant brushes with the law, Porter said.
“He just wanted friends and he ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd,” the prosecutor said after the sentencing.
Alvarez took Ugalde’s bike, and when Ugalde asked Alvarez’s fellow gang members to help him get it back, it angered the defendant, Porter said. The shooting may also have been motivated by Ugalde joining Alvarez’s gang buddies in a laugh at Alvarez’s expense, the prosecutor said.
Ugalde’s father told City News Service that his son had just graduated high school and was planning to go to Santa Ana College. He had gotten a job to help with the family’s finances and the two had plans to go on a climbing trip to Yosemite National Park.
“My son was the center of my life,” the Santa Ana resident said, with help from a translator. “We were going to go to Yosemite Park. It was a dream taken from us … Now there are no more dreams.”
Floriberto Ugalde said it was “really traumatic” to receive his son’s high school diploma in the mail after his death, as well as the first paycheck from the job that was meant to be a surprise to his father.
It was also difficult to have to call the college and cancel his son’s admission, he said.
The victim was so well-liked that members of the gang cooperated with investigators in the case initially, which is unusual, Porter said.
Alvarez fled to Mexico after the shooting. But at some point while hiding out, he bragged about the killing to his cousin and showed him a picture of the victim on the gang’s Facebook page, Porter said.
“He said, ‘That’s the guy I shot and killed,”‘ the prosecutor said.
The cousin notified authorities and the defendant was sent back to the United States in August 2013, Porter said.
—City News Service
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