Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for gunning down a Buena Park resident who ordered guests at his son’s birthday party to leave after the defendant and his associates crashed the gathering and started a fight.

Dylan William Salazar was sentenced in March of 2013 to 50 years to life in prison, but his conviction on first-degree murder was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez, instead of pursuing another trial, elected to have the defendant be convicted of second-degree murder, which was granted by Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals.

Due to state supreme court rulings in other cases, the law has changed, prompting Salazar to get another chance at a new trial or re-sentencing on a lesser degree of murder, Baez said.

Goethals granted Salazar credit for 2,645 days served in custody.

Co-defendant Alex Bryan Vilchis, who was 15 at the time of the Sept. 13, 2009, shooting, also faces a resentencing or a new trial, Baez said. Vilchis was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison on Dec. 7, 2012.

Some witnesses testified in the separate trials that Vilchis was the gunman who killed 42-year-old George Springer, while others, including Salazar himself, claimed to have fired the fatal shot.

The sentence was handed down Friday.

The defendant’s attorney, Jacqueline Goodman, said at the 2013 sentencing that her client deserved a chance at parole since he was a juvenile at the time of the crime and because he had been diagnosed when he was 14 as bipolar with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Springer’s 19-year-old son was celebrating his birthday when some gang members from Anaheim crashed his party, said the previous prosecutor on the case, Colleen Crommett.

Salazar and several others from a rival gang got into a bottle-throwing fight, Crommett said, prompting the victim to order the party crashers out of his house and break up the gathering.

Salazar testified that he picked up a sawed-off shotgun he had stashed in a hiding spot at Schweitzer Park in Anaheim and returned to Springer’s home. He claimed he intended to use the gun to “scare” the rival gang members and shot Springer when he pulled a gun on him, Crommett said.

Springer had a gun in his waistband, but witnesses said he never pulled it out or pointed it at anyone before he was shot in the stomach just after midnight. Springer tried to reach for his gun when he was shot, but he collapsed and died as his wife held his hand.

Co-defendant Jose Bautista, who testified against Vilchis, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2012, to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

–City News Service

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